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PostSubject: Baudrillard Wed Dec 28, 2011 3:52 pm

Baudrillard, Jean wrote:
• At male strip shows, it is still the women that we watch, the audience of women and their eager faces. They are more obscene than if they were dancing naked themselves.

• At the heart of pornography is sexuality haunted by its own disappearance.

• It is always the same: once you are liberated, you are forced to ask who you are.

• Like dreams, statistics are a form of wish fulfillment.

• The great person is ahead of their time, the smart make something out of it, and the blockhead, sets themselves against it.

• The very definition of the real becomes: that of which it is possible to give an equivalent reproduction. The real is not only what can be reproduced, but that which is always already reproduced. The hyper real.

• What you have to do is enter the fiction of America, enter America as fiction. It is, indeed, on this fictive basis that it dominates the world.

• The liberated man is not the one who is freed in his ideal reality, his inner truth, or his transparency; he is the man who changes spaces, who circulates, who changes sex, clothes, and habits according to fashion, rather than morality, and who changes opinions not as his conscience dictates but in response to opinion polls.

• The absence of things from themselves, the fact that they do not take place though they appear to do so, the fact that everything withdraws behind its own appearance and is, therefore, never identical with itself, is the material illusion of the world, And, deep down, this remains the great riddle, the enigma which fills us with dread and from which we protect ourselves with the formal illusion of truth.

• Were it not for appearances, the world would be a perfect crime, that is, a crime without a criminal, without victim and without a motive. And the truth would forever have withdrawn from it and its secret would never be revealed, for want of any clues [traces] being left behind. But the fact is that the crime is never perfect, for the world betrays itself by appearances, which are the clues to its nonexistence, the traces of the continuity of the nothing. For the nothing itself – the continuity of the nothing – leaves traces. And that is the way the world betrays its secret. That is the way it allows itself to be sensed, while at the same time hiding away behind appearances.

• Doomed to our own image, our own identity, our own “look”, and having become our own object of care, desire and suffering, we have grown indifferent to everything else. And secretly desperate at that indifference, and envious of every form of passion, originality or destiny. Any passion whatever is an affront to the general indifference. Anyone who, by his passion, unmasks how indifferent, pusillanimous or half-hearted you are, who, by the force of his presence of his suffering, unmasks how little reality you have, must be exterminated. There you have the other resuscitated, the enemy at last re-embodied, to be subjugated or destroyed.

• In this same way, on the pretext of unconditional respect for life (what could be more politically correct?), we have heard the following humanitarian profession of faith pronounced: no idea in the world is worth killing for (nor, doubtless, worth dying for). No human being deserves to be killed for anything whatsoever. A final acknowledgment of insignificance: both of ideas and of people. This statement, which actually seeks to show the greatest respect for life, attests only to a contempt and an indifference for ideas and for life. Worse than the desire to destroy life is this refusal to risk it – nothing being worth the rouble of being sacrificed. This is truly the worse offence, the worse affront possible. It is the fundamental proposition of nihilism.

• The futility of everything that comes to us from the media is the inescapable consequence of the absolute inability of that particular stage to remain silent. Music, commercial breaks, news flashes, adverts, news broadcasts, movies, presenters—there is no alternative but to fill the screen; otherwise there would be an irremediable void.... That’s why the slightest technical hitch, the slightest slip on the part of the presenter becomes so exciting, for it reveals the depth of the emptiness squinting out at us through this little window.

• America is the original version of modernity. We are the dubbed or subtitled version. America ducks the question of origins; it cultivates no origin or mythical authenticity; it has no past and no founding truth. Having known no primitive accumulation of time, it lives in a perpetual present.

• The whole gestural system of work was also obscene, in sharp contrast to the miniaturized and abstract gestural system of control to which it has now been reduced. The world of the objects of old seems like a theatre of cruelty and instinctual drives in comparison with the formal neutrality and prophylactic 'whiteness' of our perfect functional objects. Thus the handle of the flatiron gradually diminishes as it undergoes 'contouring' - the term is typical in its superficiality and abstractness; increasingly it suggests the very absence of gesture, and carried to its logical extreme this handle will no longer be manual - merely manipulable. At that point, the perfecting of the form will have relegated man to a pure contemplation of his power.

• We will live in this world, which for us has all the disquieting strangeness of the desert and of the simulacrum, with all the veracity of living phantoms, of wandering and simulating animals that capital, that the death of capital has made of us—because the desert of cities is equal to the desert of sand—the jungle of signs is equal to that of the forests—the vertigo of simulacra is equal to that of nature—only the vertiginous seduction of a dying system remains, in which work buries work, in which value buries value—leaving a virgin, sacred space without pathways, continuous as Bataille wished it, where only the wind lifts the sand, where only the wind watches over the sand.

• The transition from signs which dissimulate something to signs which dissimulate that there is nothing, marks the decisive turning point. The first implies a theology of truth and secrecy (to which the notion of ideology still belongs). The second inaugurates an age of simulacra and simulation, in which there is no longer any God to recognize His own, nor any last judgment to separate truth from false, the real from its artificial resurrection, since everything is already dead and risen in advance.

• When the real is no longer what it was, nostalgia assumes its full meaning. There is a plethora of myths of origin and of signs of reality - a plethora of truth, of secondary objectivity, and authenticity.

• It is the real, and not the map, whose vestiges persist here and there in the deserts that are no longer those of the Empire, but ours. The desert of the real itself.

• It no longer needs to be rational, because it no longer measures itself against either an ideal or negative instance. It is no longer anything but operational. In fact, it is no longer really the real, because no imaginary envelops it anymore. It is a hyperreal, produced from a radiating synthesis of combinatory models in a hyperspace without atmosphere.

• We live in a world where there is more and more information, and less and less meaning.

• All societies end up wearing masks.

• Smile and others will smile back. Smile to show how transparent, how candid you are. Smile if you have nothing to say. Most of all, do not hide the fact you have nothing to say nor your total indifference to others. Let this emptiness, this profound indifference shine out spontaneously in your smile.

• One has never said better how much "humanism", "normality", "quality of life" were nothing but the vicissitudes of profitability.

• This country is without hope. Even its garbage is clean, its trade lubricated, its traffic pacified. The latent, the lacteal, the lethal - life is so liquid, the signs and messages are so liquid, the bodies and the cars are so fluid, the hair so blond, and the soft technologies so luxuriant, that a European dreams of death and murder, of suicide motels, of orgies and cannibalism to counteract the perfection of the ocean, of the light, of that insane ease of life, to counteract the hyperreality of everything here.

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PostSubject: Re: Baudrillard Fri May 03, 2013 11:35 am

A space for Baudrillard on various topics.

From the Baudrillard Dictionary, Richard Smith.


Ambivalence.

Quote :
"While Baudrillard’s definition of ambivalence gains greater nuance in his later works, he uses the term broadly in The Consumer Society (1998a [1970]) to denote a sense of both fulfilment and non-fulfilment, or gain and loss, in relation to the object of desire. The discrepancy between what consumer culture promises with respect to the object and what the object can actually deliver robs the consumer of ambivalence toward the object. Moreover, this lack of ambivalence leads the consumer into an unhealthy relationship with the object. In plain terms, because consumer ideology tells the consumer (via advertising, media images and the like) that commodities will bring absolute fulfilment, the consumer cannot help but lapse into a state of anxiety when those commodities fail to deliver. Because consumer ideology does not allow for ambivalence and, instead, forces the consumer to view the business of consumption only in terms of gain, the consumer cannot help but feel inadequate in relation to the objects he or she possesses. Hence the anxiety inherent in consumerism: the consumer’s natural ambivalence toward objects is repressed insofar as consumer ideology insists that the enjoyment of objects should be uncon- ditional. Under these conditions, the consumer has no alternative but to locate the source of dissatisfaction within, and the only option consumer ideology provides to address the resulting anxiety is for the consumer to acquire more objects.

...According to Baudrillard, ambivalence and symbolic exchange do not confront the discourse of value with an opposing code but with the rejection of codes altogether. That is, because ambivalence is predicated not on the circulation of information and semantic content (which is to say value) but on the negation of these concepts, it can neither be encoded nor decoded and therefore cannot be mass mediated. From a theoretical perspective, however, Baudrillard argues that ambivalence will draw attention to the fact that the object of consumerism ‘is nothing, and that behind it stands the tangled void of human relations, the negative imprint of the immense mobilization of productive and social forces which have become reified in it’ (CS, 196)."


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PostSubject: Re: Baudrillard Sat May 04, 2013 5:52 pm

Body.
Quote :

"Across a number of his books and essays Baudrillard reflects on the chang- ing status, role and perception of the body in contemporary western society. He has conceptualised it variously as a consumer object (CS), a fetishised marker of sexual difference (SED) and a genetic code (EC). He has considered it in terms of pornography (S), cloning (SS), obesity (FS), (trans)sexuality (TE), fashion (SED) and torture (CA). Each of these instances represents a ‘mode of disappearance for the body’ and demon- strates Baudrillard’s preoccupation with the body as a fatal form.

Under the influence of Marxist thinking, Baudrillard argues that the body is being manufactured into a sign for consumption. In The Consumer Society (1998a [1970]) he proposes that the body, in particular the female body, is produced as a consumer object though investments of labour, time and money toward the maintenance and presentation of one’s bodily ‘property’. Baudrillard uses the examples of the fitness, beauty and diet industries to illustrate how the body is mobilised as a commodity-sign, form of capital or asset: ‘one manages one’s body; one handles it as one might handle an inheritance; one manipulates it as one of the many signifiers of social status’ (CS, 131). As a sign of ourselves projected to the world, our bodies become our chief mode of display, objects through which we proclaim our health, wealth, happiness, sat- isfaction and success. This model of the ‘functional body’ replaces the religious notion of the body as ‘flesh’ and the capitalist view of the body as labour power.

It is in the context of the fashion system that the body’s remaking as image is fully realised. No longer defined by its reproductive function and biological capabilities, or viewed as innate and unchangeable (unlike the clothes and accessories we wear), the body is transformed through sign- exchange into an object of fashion in its own right. In this sense, it is not only clothes but the body itself that is assessed as ‘fashionable’ or ‘unfash- ionable’ according to the preferred look for any given season (SED). As is the case with catwalk models, body types (the waif, the supermodel, the ethnic model) are as much fashion trends as the garments and accessories that adorn the body. Plastic surgery procedures also enable the remodel- ling of the body as a sign, as appears to be occurring with the tendency toward emulating the features and traits of popular celebrities. Fashion functions to give the appearance that the body has been ‘liberated’ from class constraints and the corporeal limitations of sex, race and disability. Baudrillard uses the example of androgenous dressing to suggest that gender identity manifests via the play of signs of gender difference, rather than through the experience of difference tied to a fixed, bodily ‘reality’ (SED).

In subsequent writings Baudrillard observes a change in the way that bodies are experienced and understood in the age of computer culture and digital media. He understands bodies to be manifestations of information codes that can be replicated and transmitted. Baudrillard, who cites the AIDS virus, cloning technologies and DNA mapping as examples of the ‘miniaturisation’ of the body, questions traditional conceptualisations of the body as a biological entity or cultural construction. As pure informa- tion the body is an effect produced by the code rather than the source of selfhood. We can see this in the way Baudrillard speaks about the possi- bilities of cloning bodies:
The DNA molecule, which contains all information relative to a body, is the prosthesis par excellence, the one that will allow for the indefinite extension of this body by the body itself – this body itself being nothing but the indefinite series of its prostheses. (SS, 98)

Inverting common understandings of the body/prosthesis relationship, whereby the prosthesis augments and extends the (bounded) biological body, Baudrillard instead views the cloned body as the prosthesis – the residue or extension of the genetic code (IE).

It has been suggested that Baudrillard’s theorisation of the body as sign and code neglects a focus on the embodied experiences of corporeality (Sobchack, 1991). His remarks about the body as ‘useless’ and ‘super- fluous’ have been interpreted in some instances to mean that bodies no longer matter in conceptualising selfhood (EC).

For social justice movements like feminism, his statements seem to deny the pain, suffering and discrimination often associated with corporeal difference. Yet what distinguishes Baudrillard’s take on the body from materialist paradigms is his focus on the conditions under which the reality principle functions to uphold the notion of ‘real’ bodies in an era of airbrushed magazine pictures, genetic manipulation and cosmetic surgery. In this respect, Baudrillard is not denying embodied experience inasmuch as he identi- fies a set of circumstances (simulation and hyper-reality) whereby bodies have ‘disappeared’ as they come to be mediated through models, codes and images."

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"All that exists is just and unjust and equally justified in both." [Aeschylus, Prometheus]

"The history of everyday is constituted by our habits. ... How have you lived today?" [N.]

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PostSubject: Re: Baudrillard Sun May 05, 2013 10:58 am

Cloning.

Quote :
"At first cloning appears to be the end: the end of totality (clones are built from parts, which contain all of an individual’s genetic code); the end of sexual difference (since clones do not need male and female parents); the end of psychoanalytical theories of developmental stages, such as Freud’s Oedipal stage, or Lacan’s mirror stage (since both rely on relationships with one’s now absent parents). Cloning becomes a final solution to an enduring human fantasy: the desire for immortality. The cloned individual will live forever in the endlessly reproduced copies of his or herself. Is this liberation (from death and disease) or nightmare? The clue lies in Baudrillard’s main analogy for the process of cloning: the metastasis of cancerous cells. The clone, then, is like one of those cancerous cells, endlessly proliferating, and in the process going beyond what it currently means to be human.

Human beings have long dreamt of entities similar to clones: witness the tradition of the double, which Baudrillard calls an ‘imaginary figure’ (SS) just like the soul, the shadow or the mirror image. But all of these entities are phantasmatic, merely having power via the imagination and its dreams and fantasies. We might think that these entities are like the clone, but in fact Baudrillard argues that the material reality of the clone exorcises them – they belong to a prior age, one in which humanist and transcendental notions held sway. Along with this exorcising of metaphysical ghosts goes the banishment of one’s parents and of the Other. A clone is not a double: it is the iterative reproduction of the same.

Baudrillard also points out that the construction of a vast information network that is currently underway in western society is like the cloning of the entire world. He concentrates, however, on the monstrous and frightening cloning of the individual. What replaces our parents? For Baudrillard, they are replaced by the matrix – or – the code (here, more specifically, genetic code). Cloning in this sense is not productive: it produces nothing extra or additional so to speak, it merely reproduces itself; the genetic code thus precedes and takes priority over the body.

With reference to Benjamin (2008) Baudrillard suggests that with cloning an analogous situation occurs: we witness a shift from the external technologies of the industrial age (the exotechnical), to the soft technologies of the information age (the esotechnical) (SS). This shift is not celebrated by Baudrillard; rather he perceives the new technologies that facilitate cloning as being a form of ‘revenge’ on mortal beings. In other words, the new cybernetic technologies which are often portrayed in the media as a revolutionary progression (in science, technology, rationality) are regarded here as an ‘involution’, which nullifies difference and differentiation. This ‘involution’ is a return to a primitive state of ‘incest’ and ‘entropy’ (VI). Banishing death, one’s parents, the Other and even sexual difference (or at least the reproductive functionality of sexual difference), the clone lives an ‘undifferentiated’ life of ‘non-individuated existence’.

Thus education, the media and other cultural forms all produce ‘monothought’ (VI), in other words they prepare us for cloning, or they are the very grounds for the technological process of cloning and the concomitant desire for revenge on the mortal. If we fail the cloning test by becoming the non-human, the immortal or infinite series of clones, then what do we care that we were already our own simulations?"

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"ἐδιζησάμην ἐμεωυτόν." [Heraclitus]

"All that exists is just and unjust and equally justified in both." [Aeschylus, Prometheus]

"The history of everyday is constituted by our habits. ... How have you lived today?" [N.]

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PostSubject: Re: Baudrillard Mon May 06, 2013 8:06 am

Communication.

Quote :
"For Baudrillard, the notion that communication between two or more parties requires meaningful content has been supplanted in such a semi- otic order by excessive emphasis upon the mere technical efficiency of the transmission rather than the content itself: ‘The mass media are anti- mediatory and intransitive. They fabricate non-communication – this is what characterizes them’ (CPS, 169). This results in a contemporary media society in which consumers/citizens have access to numerous tech- nical forms of transmission that are labelled ‘interactive’ but which in fact reduce the act of communication to an essentially one-way process. The outcome is an ersatz form of communication that is a simulated, etiolated abstraction of more substantive, symbolic encounters.

Quote :
We are all quite familiar with this immense process of simulation. Non-directive interviews, call-in shows, all-out participation – the extortion of speech: ‘it con- cerns you, you are the majority, you are what is happening.’ And the probing of opinions, hearts, minds, and the unconscious to show how much ‘it’ speaks. The news has been invaded by this phantom content, this homeopathic transplant, this waking dream of communication. A circular construction where one presents the audience with what it wants, an integrated circuit of perpetual solicitation. (S, 163)

The mainstream’s misapprehension of the essence of communication and its subsequent fetishisation of transmission and artefacts of transmission leads to an unwarranted glorification of the empowering and enabling qualities of new communicational technologies: ‘As if owning a TV set or a camera inaugurated a new possibility of relationship and exchange. Strictly speaking, such cases are no more significant than the possession of a refrigerator or a toaster’ (CPS, 171).

The clearest manifestation of Baudrillard’s theory in practice has been the rise of reality TV. Having mentioned in Simulacra and Simulation (1994a [1981]) the pioneering Australian reality TV filming of the Louds family, in his later work, Baudrillard engaged with the French equiva- lent of the Big Brother franchise, ‘Loft Story’, which he described as ‘the mirror and the disaster of an entire society caught up in the rush for insignificance and swooning to its own banality’ (CA, 190). In stark con- trast to the largely positive analyses of active audience theory and cultural populism, Baudrillard was scathing about the non-communication repre- sented in such shows: ‘this existential micro-situation serves as a universal metaphor of the modern being enclosed in a personal loft that is no longer his or her physical and mental universe but a tactile and digital universe. . . of digital humans caught in the labyrinth of networks, of people becoming their own (white) mice’ (CA, 193).

An essential paradox in Baudrillard’s approach is that non- communication results from superficially highly communicative events that from a symbolic point of view are merely non-events in events’ cloth- ing. Mainstream media theory’s innate conservativism results from its unwillingness to engage with this communicational paradox. Frequently, it uncritically provides a legitimating eulogy for non-communicational mega-spectacles. It fails to heed Debord’s warning that ‘When analyz- ing the spectacle one speaks . . . the language of the spectacular itself’ (Debord, 1983: 11). Baudrillard’s sensitivity to the communication/ non-communication dynamic problematises conventional media theory because, by comparison, it shows how it chooses to privilege the examina- tion of social forms over the particular media forms that make those social forms possible in the first place.

Just as Baudrillard paradoxically claims that communications technologies are designed to ‘fabricate non-communication’, so at a theo- retical level, the very disciplines designed to illuminate the role of media technologies in the act of communication have facilitated the overlooking of Baudrillard’s theoretical significance. This failure has occurred at a conceptual level with the consistent ignoring of Baudrillard’s crucial dis- tinction between symbols and signs. In mainstream media studies, both tend to be conflated, thus removing a major element of those critical perspectives like Baudrillard’s that identify technology’s role in the hollowing out of symbolic substance. At a stylistic level too there has been a failure to appreciate the significance of Baudrillard’s particular style of writing. Baudrillard’s various McLuhanite ‘probes’ and ‘mosaic’ style are geared to questioning, at the most fundamental level, the communicational assump- tions of the contemporary mediascape.

Baudrillard’s innovative approach allowed him to grapple with the implications of Heidegger’s famous paradoxical assertion from his essay ‘The Question Concerning Technology’ that ‘the essence of technology is nothing technological’. The mediation created by Baudrillard’s deliberately evocative, allusive and, at times, poetic writing style allows the reader to be reflexive about his communication about the act of mediated communication.

It is ironic that Baudrillard, the postmodern, nihilist bête noire of empirical social ‘sciences’ was in fact much more concerned with examining the actual felt phenomenological communicational experience of the mediated life than his empiricist detractors, trapped as they are by the insufficiently acknowledged levels of abstraction required by more ‘scientifically legitimate’ methodologies.

Baudrillard’s imbrication of form and content allowed him to do what other great French thinkers before him (Lacan, Derrida and so on) also did – something that Žižek describes in terms of creating a ‘parallax view’ and ‘looking awry’ – namely, to produce a critical perspective in the midst of the dominant, uncritical celebration of the ‘empowering’ possibilities created by the flux and flows of new media technologies. Baudrillard’s poetic quality was a fundamental feature, rather than an optional by-- product, of his writing. It marks his particular mode of communication premised as it is upon a willingness to speculate and find the truth that inheres within exaggeration: ‘All that remains for us is theoretical violence – speculation to the death, whose only method is the radicalization of hypotheses’ (SED, 5).

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PostSubject: Re: Baudrillard Tue May 07, 2013 8:31 am

Death.

Quote :
"Death is a vital term in Baudrillard’s theoretical vocabulary, used in a number of different but interrelated senses. According to Baudrillard the system of power and control is founded on a particular construction of the relationship between life and death, one which separates and opposes them, making death the absolute termination of life. Baudrillard explores an alternative understanding of death in ‘symbolic’ or ‘primitive’ cultures: death as a social, cyclical and reversible position in symbolic exchange ritual. Death, understood as a stake in an ongoing cycle of symbolic exchanges, is never fully eliminated by rationality, Baudrillard asserts. Indeed, he contends that the symbolic exchange of death, in sacrificial or ‘suicidal’ form, constitutes the ‘ultimate weapon’ against the capitalist system because it strikes at the very foundation of its organisation. His work on the 9/11 suicide attacks explores this difficult idea (ST).

Baudrillard also discusses the (attempted) elimination of death as symbolic form through the technology of cloning, and his final works suggest ways of thinking about life and death as ‘parallel’, inseparable and ‘complicit’ symbolic forms.

For Baudrillard death is the most vital stake in social organisation – for both modern and ‘symbolic’ societies. He claims that a fundamental reversal in the nature of social organisation has taken place: a shift from the symbolic order where ‘what cannot be symbolically exchanged constitutes a mortal danger for the group’ (SED, 131), to capitalist modernity where ‘everything which is symbolically exchanged constitutes a mortal danger for the dominant order’ (SED, 188). Modern society functions only by dismantling and preventing the cycles of symbolic exchange, specifically by disallowing the moment of response or ‘counter-gift’. The system creates a fundamental ‘symbolic debt’, showering consumers with (simulatory) gifts of culture, education, medical technology, communication and ‘liberation’. This unexchangeable debt constitutes ‘the social relations of symbolic domination’; capital is a form of ‘domination over life and death’ (SED, 31).

We are constructed as ‘wage-consumers’ who must work for a wage and must spend that wage on ‘dead signs’ supporting the system of consumption, ‘a man must die to become labour power . . . [he dies] by his definition as a productive force’ (SED, 39). Baudrillard refashions Hegel’s master/slave dialectic arguing, ‘The master confiscates the death of the other while retaining the right to risk his own’ (SED, 40); the power structure is thus ‘a structure of death’ (SED, 40).

For Baudrillard immediate death is the ultimate weapon against this system: ‘you will never abolish this power by staying alive . . . only the surrender of this life, retaliating against a deferred death with an immediate death . . . the only possibility of abolishing power’ (SED, 40). Baudrillard insists ‘the revolution can only consist in the abolition of the separation of death, and not in equality of survival’ (SED, 129).

For Baudrillard, death is ‘ultimately nothing more than the social line of demarcation separating the “dead” from the “living”’ (SED, 127). In symbolic cultures death is affirmed and marked by elaborate ceremony. Through ceremonial forms of symbolic exchange death is understood as part of a symbolic and reversible cycle, not merely as the biological end-point of the individual’s life. For example, initiation rites are a kind of social ‘death’ followed by a rebirth with transformed status – indeed all ‘death’ is social because it is part of a process of the transformation of social status.

‘[T]he initiation consists in an exchange being established . . . the opposition between birth and death disappears’ (SED, 132), ‘Symbolic exchange is halted neither by the living nor by the dead’ (SED, 134). By contrast in modernity the dead are ‘thrown out of the group’s symbolic circulation. . . no longer beings with a full role to play’ (SED, 126). Increasingly, death is separated from life; it is medicalised and ‘confined’. The symbolic exchange of death is ruptured as the dead are removed further and further away from the living, no longer buried in village churchyards but banished to out-of-town cemeteries or ‘ghettos’, increasingly inaccessible to their kin. Death becomes ‘anormal’, ‘it is not normal to be dead, and this is new. To be dead is an unthinkable anomaly: nothing else is as offensive as this’ (SED, 126). Separated out from symbolic ritual death is devoid of meaning, an ‘unprogrammable’ horror, an ‘unthinkable anomaly’. Yet life too, separated from death, loses its meaningfulness, reduced to ‘the indifferent fatality of survival’ (SED, 127).

Liberation from death is a far more terrifying prospect than is death, and, Baudrillard asserts, death as symbolic form will always haunt us leading to the possibility of new ritual forms of death. He conjectures ‘clones of the future may well pay for the luxury of dying and become mortal once again in simulation: cyberdeath’ (VI, 12). A further possibility is that ‘original’ humans may desire to ‘Kill your clone, destroy yourself with no risk of actually dying: vicarious suicide’ (VI, 27). Where previous generations have suffered alienation, future generations face an infinitely worse prospect: the horror of ‘never knowing death’ (CM5, 55).

Baudrillard often wrote of cancer as a condition caused by cells that forget how to die (VI) and proliferate wildly, killing the host. With cancer, as with civilisation, the loss of death prefigures the loss of life. Developing the theme of double lives and ‘parallel universes’ in The Intelligence of Evil or The Lucidity Pact (2005a [2004]), Baudrillard suggests that we have a life of biological existence and a second life of destiny; the two rarely intersect: ‘Double life entails the notion of double death’ so that ‘in one of these two lives you may already be dead, doubtless without knowing it’ (LP, 198). Cloning technology represents a terrible violence because it threatens to eliminate both forms in an ‘absolute death’, yet this ‘perfect crime’ can never take place because life and death, are symbolic forms, ‘complicit . . . parallel and indissociable’ (LP, 200). People – ‘original’ and cloned – will fight, to the death, for their death."

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"All that exists is just and unjust and equally justified in both." [Aeschylus, Prometheus]

"The history of everyday is constituted by our habits. ... How have you lived today?" [N.]

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PostSubject: Re: Baudrillard Wed May 08, 2013 7:09 am

Destiny.

Quote :
"Destiny is intimately linked to some of the most difficult ideas in Baudrillard’s vocabulary, in particular seduction, the object and fatal strategies. Baudrillard is not interested in the notion of individual destiny (you will meet a handsome stranger, and so on), but the destiny of the object, its cycles of appearance, disappearance and reappearance. Indeed, for Baudrillard, ‘[destiny] comes to us from the other. Each is the destiny of the other. There is no individual destiny’ (IEx, 84).

For Baudrillard destiny is rarely sensed in the ‘indifferent spaces’ of modern life (FS) where people (as ‘subjects’) are confined by instrumental rationality, purpose and time constraints. Yet where action is governed by a set of ‘entirely arbitrary rules’, rather than by norms or laws, in spaces such as those of ceremony and ritual, games and traditional dance, destiny, Baudrillard contends, is given free reign. Ceremonial or ritual space is enchanted not indifferent: time/space relations are altered, ceremonies unfold in their own time, ‘the ceremony contains the presentiment of its development and its end . . . [Time] must have the time to disappear’(FS, 207). Further, the rules of the game or ritual leave no place for legal, moral or psychological considerations; indeed, all that holds together ‘the subject’ is suspended, returning only when the game or ritual is over.

Baudrillard’s oft-repeated example of the play of destiny is based on the old Iraqi folk tale known as ‘Death in Samarkand’. A soldier, on his way to market, sees the black-cloaked figure of Death apparently beckoning him. Terrified he flees and begs his king to lend him his fastest horse so that he may escape to the distant city of Samarkand. The following day the king asks Death why he frightened his soldier. Death replies ‘I didn’t mean to frighten him. It was just that I was surprised to see this soldier here, when we had a rendez-vous tomorrow in Samarkand’ (S, 72). The soldier is destined, inevitably, to meet Death, who is himself ‘an innocent player in the game’ (S, 73).

There is a direct line of development from Baudrillard’s positions concerning ritual initiation, his arguments on seduction and his thinking on destiny: ‘the initiatory fact of seducing and being seduced . . . consists in giving you a destiny, and not only an existence’ (FS, 165–6). Destiny then comes into play as a dual or ‘double life’ that unfolds beyond biological existence. That which reappears or returns signals a double life of destiny; ‘each individual life unfolds on two levels, in two dimensions – history and destiny – which coincide only exceptionally’ (IEx, 79). Baudrillard seems to derive this thinking from Nietzsche’s notion of the Eternal Return (IEx), though this influence is allusive not formative. Freed from biology, from historical change, from social norms and moral laws that define the ‘subject’, the double life is one of becoming object, becoming other, metamorphosing not by choice but by the hands of fate.

The opposition between chance (randomness) and determination (causal connection), Baudrillard argues, is a modern construction built on the denial of sacred and ceremonial social forms; he insists ‘the truth is that there is no chance’ (FS, 182), ‘Nothing is dead, nothing is inert, nothing is disconnected, uncorrelated or aleatory. Everything, on the contrary, is fatally, admirably connected – not at all according to rational relations [. . .], but according to an incessant cycle of metamorphoses, according to the seductive rapports of form and appearance’ (FS, 185). Games of chance such as gambling involve, for Baudrillard, a passion ‘to upset the causal system and the objective way things proceed and re-engage their fatal linkage’ (FS, 189).

And we prize such fated events, such spaces of destiny; for Baudrillard ‘each of us secretly prefers an arbitrary and cruel order, one that leaves us no choice, to the horrors of a liberal one where . . . we are forced to recognise that we don’t know what we want’ (FS, 206). Our fundamental passion, he asserts, is to be drawn out of the (hyper-)reality of rationality and causality and to be placed within a ‘pure unfolding’ of destiny.

Further, with causal, temporal and subjectivist illusions suspended, there is, for Baudrillard, renewed potential for symbolic relations with the other: ‘if I am inseparable from the other, from all the others I almost became, then all destinies are linked . . . being is a linked succession of forms, and to speak of one’s own will makes no sense’ (IEx, 84). ‘There is in this symbolic circulation, in this sharing of destinies, the essence of a subtler freedom than the individual liberty to make up one’s mind’ (IEx, 85).

According to Baudrillard, the processes of writing poetry and (radical) theory, like ritual, impose a set of rules of the game that must be followed and so can suspend the illusory opposition between a causal determined universe and one of freedom and choice. Words, signs, and things seduce each other with the subject reduced to their conduit, forging connections through ‘chain reaction’; this is the ‘order of destiny’. In both language (wit, slips of the tongue, poetry, theory) and in material, ‘socio-political’ registers destiny appears ‘where events attain their effects without passing through causes’ (FS, 192), moving in a predestined linkage. In ‘chance’ meetings and encounters and in ‘socio-political’ events things sometimes seem to happen in a flash, ‘in advance of the unfolding of their causes’ so that ‘reasons come after’ (FS, 198).

We are seduced by the rapid flashes of appearance and disappearance, sometimes following them without thinking. Rationality, by contrast, seeks to invent causes to dispel this play of appearance and disappearance, to make them more ‘solid’. However ‘no event can put an end to the succession of events, and no action can definitively determine what follows’ (IEx, 87).
Ultimately, Baudrillard suggests that both the world of destiny and the world of reason and causality are ‘equally groundless’ (FS, 206), but while the former seduces and links us to the Other, the latter bores and frustrates."

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PostSubject: Re: Baudrillard Thu May 09, 2013 8:46 pm

Double.

Quote :
From earliest times, human beings have imagined themselves to be accompanied by the double, be it as a shadow, a spirit, a namesake, a reflection or a totem. But while ‘the primitive has a non-alienated duel- relation with his double’ (SED, 141) based on reciprocity, dialogue and exchange, this figure has taken on a sinister aspect in modern times. A commonplace in nineteenth-century Gothic and Romantic literature as well as in the modern thriller genre, the doppelgänger constituted for both Otto Rank (1914) and Sigmund Freud (SE XVII) the definitive figure of the uncanny, of the unheimlich, of the strangely familiar. Perhaps not surprisingly, it is also one of Baudrillard’s favourite and most frequent motifs. Appropriately, the double appears in his writings in a number of different incarnations and guises: as mirror-image (as Narcissus in S; as the ‘mirror people’ in PC), as shadow (SV), as twin (see CM2, and see also the discussion of the Twin Towers in ST) and, finally, as clone (S; SS).

As a disquieting manifestation of both identity and non-identity, of ambiguity and anomaly, the double serves as a recurrent trope for so many of those conventional binary oppositions and antitheses beloved of dialecticians that Baudrillard eagerly sets in play and subverts through ironic inversion and sudden reversal: ‘reality’ and representation, essence and appearance, soul/spirit and body, subject and object, self and other, original and copy, authenticity and (dis)simulation, good and evil, absence and presence, surface and depth, secret and obscene, critique and complicity.

The figure of the doppelgänger poses such questions as: which of these is which? how can we tell them apart? which of these takes precedence and priority over the other? which of these is to be believed? who is to be trusted? who is haunting whom? The double challenges epistemological certainties and ontological securities, and in so doing becomes a key agent and instrument of Baudrillard’s critically subversive fatal theory.

The double may be understood as the double, so to speak, of the Möbius strip. Both tropes suggest the singularity of the dual and the duality of the singular. In the single-sided looping mathematical construction, there is the seemingly impossible dissolution of one surface into another; with the sinister figure of the doppelgänger, that which seemed individual and indivisible, the human subject, becomes duplicated in some way: through bisection, bifurcation, distillation, reflection, mimesis, separation, polari- sation, (re)generation, reproduction, replication and/or artificial fertili- sation. And, importantly, this double appears not as something wholly different and other (good old-fashioned dialectics!), but as an embodied being both radically contrary yet seemingly and simultaneously identical.
Here, it would seem, the double belongs to the realm of seduction, those in finite and involuted games of appearances and illusions that Baudrillard so relishes.

But, perhaps more surprisingly, Baudrillard’s most developed discussion of the double is in relation to the order of production... Baudrillard’s point is that if commodity production involves the self- estrangement of the worker, consumer culture is that moment when the object returns as an alien thing, not casually and contingently, but persist- ently, insistently, compellingly. The worker is haunted by the commodity. Marx, then, exposes the deception of ‘formally free’ labour in the capitalist production process; Baudrillard reveals the myth of ‘individual choice’ in the system of consumption.

Baudrillard insists that one cannot survive the encounter with one’s double. The double is a figure of the imaginary reliant on distance, fascination and the possibility of reversal. The advent of scien- tific cloning (with its own double helix of DNA) has realised the planned production of the replica. The double becomes the treble, the quadruple in an infinite mass proliferation. All this reproductive technology is banal, obscene, lacking any secrecy, any charm, any aura (see ‘Clone Story’ in SS). Cloning is cancerous metastasis. It is without interest, without seduc- tion. The double has had its day. The mirror people have deserted us in this age of mechanical reproduction. And who can blame them?"

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PostSubject: Re: Baudrillard Mon May 13, 2013 10:49 am

Drugs.

Quote :

According to Baudrillard, a ‘perverse’ logic (SC, 97) drives consumer societies. A logic that fuels, not just the use and abuse of drugs, but also the growth of other phenomena: terrorism, violence, depression, fascism and so forth. These phenomena are all, says Baudrillard, the product or outcome of ‘an excess of organization, regulation and rationalization within a system’ (SC, 97). In other words, those societies which are defined and ‘saturated’ by their system of consumption tend to suffer from an excess of systemic rationalisation (logic and rationality, surveillance and control), which perversely leads to the emergence – for no apparent reason – of ‘internal pathologies’, ‘strange dysfunctions’, ‘unforeseeable, incurable accidents’, ‘anomalies’ (SC, 97), which disrupt the system’s capacity for totality, perfection and reality invention.

It is the logic of an excessive system to fuel the growth of anomalies, which along with AIDS and cancer are pathologies in that they have not come from elsewhere, from ‘outside’ or from afar, but are rather a product of the ‘over-protection’ of the body – be it social or individual.
The system’s overcapacity to protect, normalise and integrate is evi- denced everywhere: natural immunity is replaced by systems of artificial immunity – ‘hygienic, chemical, medical, social and psychological pros- thetics’ (SC, 98) – in the name of science and progress.

Baudrillard risks a more shocking and obverse interpretation of ‘escapist’ drug-use, namely that it is a defence by dependents against the ‘syndrome of immunodeficiency’ (SC, 99) endemic to consumer societies: a ‘vital, symbolic reaction – though an apparently desperate and suicidal one – to something even worse’ (SC, 99). Thus Baudrillard posits a significance to drug
addiction that exposes a paradox at the heart of the issue of substance abuse in modern consumer societies: ‘It is society which produces this perverse effect and society which condemns it. If it is not going to stop producing the effect, then it should at least stop cursing it’ (SC, 101)."

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PostSubject: Re: Baudrillard Sun Jun 23, 2013 5:45 pm

Gnosticism.

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In Baudrillard’s deluge of thought, his distaste for the ‘faecality’ of signi- fied reality (CS, 30), his deliberate ‘Evil Genius of matter’ (FF, 95) and his desire ‘Not to be there, but to see. Like God’ (PC, 38) summarise a sensibility shaped by two Gnostic currents.

The ideas of Valentinus (AD 100–60) and Mani (AD 215–77) interested Baudrillard as steps into a philosophy which assumes the duality of reality, with Spirit (Good) enslaved in Matter (Evil), yet destined for liberation. Gnostics seek this destiny in gnosis: a divine knowledge, secret wisdom or meta-rational grace. This is anticipated as an ecstatic exchange with God (Jonas, 1963). Once God is so challenged, something like gnosis (S) can arise within, yet from beyond, our ‘Hell of simulation’ and its ‘evil spirit of commutation’ (SS, 18).

Baudrillard learnt about Gnosticism after Bataille (1985b) and Artaud (1958) and following the discoveries in Egypt in 1930 and 1945 of, among other scrolls, the Manichean Psalm-book (AD 350) and the Valentinian Gospel of Philip (AD 250). These ancient Coptic texts seem to have influenced the young Baudrillard after being translated. For example, Baudrillard’s ‘in the fields of dung winter has preceded us’ (UB, 79) from L’Ange de Stuc (1978) appears to draw on the Gospel of Philip: ‘the winter is the world . . . if any man reap in winter . . . his field is barren’ (Isenberg, 1981: 132). Furthermore, ‘this upright one . . . on this Persian stake’ (UB, 78) seems to echo references in the Manichean Psalm-book to Mani on ‘the upright Bema [seat] of the great judge’ and to Mani’s execution, plotted by ‘the teachers of Persia’ (Allberry, 1938: 8 and 16).
Thereafter, Gnostic thoughts marked Baudrillard’s work for five decades, manifesting mostly as Manichean dualism yet sometimes as Valentinian monism (F; Dyakov, 2009). To appreciate the significance of these references, readers need to know about the dualist tradition Baudrillard inherited and the Gnostic distinctions he used. Monists, like Valentinus, assume everything (including dualism) arose when an origi- nal single principle divided in its desire to be creative (see Grant, 1996). Dualists, like Mani, assume the duality of Good and Evil was co-infinitely present from the very beginning and thus did not need to arise from any- thing prior to it (Jonas, 1963).

It was Manichean duality that animated the Albigensian (French Gnostic) tradition and then Baudrillard, via ‘a prophetic moralism . . . inherited [. . .] from my ancestors, who were peasants’ (Baudrillard, 1995b: unpaginated). Also called Cathars, these Gnostics were active (991–1207) and actively persecuted (1208–1330), but left a legacy in French peasant life (Le Roy Ladurie, 1979). If Cool Memories II (1996b, [1990b]) is any guide, we may assume Baudrillard got Albigensian ideas like ‘destiny’ and ‘the demonic’ from his peasant grandparents in the Ardennes (CM2).
Duality as destiny eventually became ‘the rule’ guiding Baudrillard’s quest for a ‘secret’ akin to gnosis (FS). Mani’s duality of Good and Evil ushered Baudrillard towards this secret by being an antinomy (a pair of related, yet logically independent, contradictory concepts), not a Good/ Evil binary opposition. The significance of this ‘irreducible duality’ was first announced in Symbolic Exchange and Death (1993a [1976]). The implications, for possible gnosis, were then fleshed out in several books (S, FS, FF, TE, P, F). Baudrillard summarised this potential: ‘The total- ity constituted by Good and Evil together transcends us, but we should accept it totally.

There can be no intelligence of things so long as this fundamental rule is ignored’ (TE, 109). Here, the antinomy which enables an ‘intelligence of things’ is Manichean. As such, it cannot be contained within ‘the tiny marginal sphere contributed by our rational model’ (TE, 105) because it is, by definition, a co-infinite contradiction. Thus, like gnosis, the ‘intelligence’ must be gleaned from ‘the symbolic level, which is the level of destiny’ (TE, 105).
As philosophy, Baudrillard’s use of antinomy for gnosis was saved from circularity only by falling into an infinite logical regress. However, he made a virtue of this problem by discerning ‘the secret’ in an infinite ‘eternity of seduction’, especially ‘the seduction of appearances’ (EC, 74). Gnosis-via- antinomy was, therefore, his penultimate exit from the ‘faecality’ of signi- fied reality (CS). His final move was the paradoxical project of eluding ordinary life-and-death by cultivating ‘disappearance’ via ‘pure appear- ance’ (FS, FF). For this, Baudrillard interpreted the Gnostic assumption of metamorphosis as ‘the law of appearances’, wherein ‘passing . . . from one form to another is a means of disappearing, not of dying’ (EC, 47).
Here, ‘to disappear is to disperse oneself in appearances [because] . . . dying doesn’t do any good; one must still know how to disappear’ (EC, 47). At this point, the Cathar practice of Endura (returning to God via sacred suicide) comes to mind (Runciman, 1947). Indeed, for Baudrillard, appearing and disappearing was, in fact ‘suicidal, but in a good way . . . there is an art of disappearing, a way of modulating it and making it into a state of grace. This is what I’m trying to master in theory’ (FF, 118).

The prospect of disappearing in pure appearance seems to have been the seed and the fruit of Baudrillard’s Gnostic sensibility. ‘From very high the white-tailed eagle destroys itself and returns to what it was’, wrote the young Baudrillard (UB, 78–9). The older Baudrillard had similar thoughts,
stressing ‘the dizzying joys of disincarnation’ as ‘the deepest spiritual joy?’ (PC, 38).
And yet, the dying Baudrillard evoked auto-da-fé (the ceremonial burning of heretics) before confessing that his ‘major themes’ were all shaped by his ‘character traits, even character flaws’: ‘a disaffection with the physical world? . . . an unsuitability for the real . . . a denunciation of reality’ (Baudrillard, 2007: unpaginated).

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PostSubject: Re: Baudrillard Tue Jun 25, 2013 1:39 pm

Hysteresis

Quote :
Although it is most frequently associated with physical systems, Baudrillard has characterised contemporary society in terms of hysteresis – ‘the process whereby something continues to develop by inertia’ (A, 115). Coined by Sir James Alfred Ewing (1855–1935) – from the Greek hyster- esis, meaning shortcoming or deficiency, and hysterein, to be late, fall short, lag behind – the term refers to the property of any system whose state is not deterministically related to its inputs, which retains a ‘memory’ such that its present state is ‘path-dependent’. Magnetised iron provides an example, since the effects caused by exposure to a magnetic field persist in the absence of the cause. It is in a similar sense that Baudrillard invokes the term: if modernity has already reached and, paradoxically, passed beyond its end, hysteresis is the appropriate term to capture its dogged persistence.
Despite modern efforts to impose a linear progression towards an end or finality, time has always possessed a secret curvature which modernity could only ever disavow and not destroy. This curvature puts an end to the end itself.

[W]e have to get used to the idea that there is no end any longer, there will no longer be any end, that history itself has become interminable. Thus, when we speak of the ‘end of history’, the ‘end of the political’, the ‘end of the social’, the ‘end of ideologies’, none of this is true. The worst of it all is . . . that there will be no end to anything, and all these things will continue to unfold slowly, tediously, recur- rently, in that hysteresis of everything which, like nails and hair, continues to grow after death. (IE, 116)

Zygmunt Bauman similarly describes ‘postmodernity’ as modernity’s posthumous form, while Giorgio Agamben speaks of the persistence of the means developed by modernity long after the abandonment of the ends. Hysteresis thus describes the zombified state of the body politic, while outbreaks of ‘hysteresia’ engulf the socius:
those who continue to vote although there are no more candidates . . . The phantom limb which goes on hurting even after it is amputated . . . The man who is made redundant but goes regularly to his former place of work every morning. (CM3, 129)
Although etymological connections between ‘hysteresis’ and ‘hysteria’ are eschewed by lexicographers, symptomatological resonances abound.

In Ancient Greek nosology, hysteria – deriving from hystera, womb – was regarded as a set of symptoms caused by the ‘wandering womb’. For Freud, such symptoms relate to an imaginary anatomy, having no present physical cause. For Lacan, hysteria is a neurosis articulated by a particular question that being poses for a subject. Insofar as this is a question the subject cannot answer, it is apt that a similar question is finally posed for history, a process without a subject. The consequent interminable simu- lation of the social is best captured in Baudrillard’s appeal to the comic vision of ‘the cyclist in Jarry’s Supermale, who has died of exhaustion on the incredible trip across Siberia, but who carries on pedalling and propelling the Great Machine, his rigor mortis transformed into motive power’ (A, 115).

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PostSubject: Re: Baudrillard Fri Jun 28, 2013 9:43 am

Manichaeism.

Quote :
The ideas of Mani (AD 215–77), a Persian philosopher of good and evil, helped Baudrillard locate his thinking within the dual form, thereby ena- bling his production of concepts like symbolic exchange, seduction and the perfect crime. Mani’s ideas were revived following translations into French, German and English of Manichean scrolls discovered in Chinese Turkestan (1908) and Egypt (1930). This material seems to have influ- enced the young Baudrillard. For example, Baudrillard’s passage ‘this upright one . . . on this Persian stake’ (UB, 78) apparently echoes references in the Manichean Psalm-book (Coptic, AD 350) to Mani’s execution and to Mani on ‘the upright Bema [seat] of the great judge’ (Allberry, 1938: 8 ). In the same passage, Baudrillard also refers to ‘the Taillades’, once a Cathar village in southern France. Furthermore, the life-forming duality of good and evil in The Novels of Italo Calvino (UB) appears well-informed by the intermingled and creative Demonic and Divine in Chinese Manichean Text # three (AD 731; Greenlees, 1956). Thereafter, Baudrillard would regularly refer to Manichean ideas. To appreciate these references, readers need to know about Mani’s ‘Two Roots, Three Epochs’ doctrine. ‘Mani’s developed doctrine . . . undertook to expound “beginning, middle and end” of the total drama of being,’ explains Jonas (1963: 209).

Referring to Light (Good) and Darkness (Evil), Jonas notes: ‘The founda- tion of Mani’s teaching is the infinity of the primal principles; the middle part concerns their intermingling; and the end, the separation of the Light from the Darkness’. Here, creation happens in the second epoch, when Light (God) lets Darkness trap some of it in matter (Jonas, 1963). This is done, Mani reckoned, to seduce Evil into the third epoch, where God will be unmixed from matter, reality reversed and the world destroyed; leaving Good once again separate from Evil (Jonas, 1963). These ideas animated the Albigensian (French Cathar) tradition and then Baudrillard via ‘a prophetic moralism . . . inherited from my ancestors, who were peasants’ (Baudrillard, 1995b: unpaginated). Riding with his peasant grandparents on an oxcart attacked by Nazi dive-bombers while fleeing the Ardennes in 1940, Baudrillard the boy may have thought that the world was created by ‘the Evil Genius of matter’ (FF, 95).

Given these sources and circumstances, readers could expect to find Manichean ideas in Baudrillard’s early major work. Indeed, some dis- taste for the signified material world is apparent in his first four books (SO, CS, CPS, MP). There is, for example, his emphasis on the ‘faecal- ity’ of reality (CS, 30). However, it was six years later that Baudrillard first announced his preference for Manichean dualism (SED, 149). Writing in light of Freud’s duality of Eros (life) and Thanatos (death), he noted Mani’s ‘very powerful vision’ to emphasise ‘the irreducible duality’ of good and evil and thereby critique a persecuting church seeking to make evil ‘dialectically subordinate’ within a Good/Evil binary opposition.

Baudrillard deepened his Manichean critique of binaries in Seduction (1990a [1979]) by showing how twin terms like ‘good and evil’ need not be conceived as ‘diacritical oppositions’, but can be thought of ‘within the framework of an enigmatic duel and an inexorable reversibility?’ (S, 103). Here, Mani’s roots and epochs are brought to mind, but Baudrillard waited until Fatal Strategies (2008a [1983]) to be explicit: ‘Imagine a good resplendent with all the power of Evil: this is God, a perverse god creat- ing the world on a dare and calling on it to destroy itself . . .’ (FS, 29). Furthermore, he boldly drew on Mani to intensify Hume’s critique of causation (FS). During this period, Baudrillard also used Manichaeism and Scepticism to inform Simulacra and Simulation (1994a [1981]) and lectured in Australia, telling interviewers: ‘For me the reality of the world has been seduced, and this is really what is so fundamentally Manichean in my work’ (ED, 46). By the time he published work done for a doctoral degree at the Sorbonne, Baudrillard was writing openly as a Manichean metaphysician (EC).

An epiphany of Good and Evil during his Tautavel Gorges accident (CM3) drew Baudrillard further into Manichaeism in the 1990s (TE, PC, IEx). At this time, he even dared to anticipate Mani’s third epoch (PC) before carrying his Manichean torch into the new century (PW, F, ST). This move led him to interpret 9/11 via Manichean illusion (PC) and intermingled good and evil (ST). Elsewhere he noted the Cathars, confessing ‘my transcendental Manicheism’ (F, 81) and echoing Voltaire’s Manichean Martin (F). ‘Oh yes, I love the world of the Cathars because I am Manichean’, he later told Der Speigel (Baudrillard, 2004b: unpaginated).

Even so, as death beckoned, Baudrillard began to critique his Manichean career. In The Intelligence of Evil or The Lucidity Pact (2005a [2004]), he declared: ‘The idea of evil as a malign force, a maleficent agency, a deliber- ate perversion of the order of the world, is a deep-rooted superstition’ (LP, 160). And yet, in the same book, he upholds ‘the agon’ as a key symbolic form (LP, 161). This suggests that Baudrillard’s mature Manichaeism involved moving away from Mani’s metaphysical story towards the form of duality itself.

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PostSubject: Re: Baudrillard Sun Sep 01, 2013 8:46 pm

Obscene.

Quote :
‘I think like a girl takes off her dress. At the extreme, thought is impudence, obscenity even’ (Bataille, in Surya, 1987: 8 ). The totalitarian semiotic order Baudrillard’s theory so resolutely opposes creates a qualitatively different form of obscenity to Bataille’s simile. Rather than thought occurring like a girl provocatively disrobing it becomes more akin to the gyrations of a lap dancer seeking a tip. The obscene results from media society’s insatiable need to create as much explicit content as possible and its corresponding inability to deal with the seductive and the ambiguous. Pornography is thus reinter- preted by Baudrillard as a trope for a wider social condition and purpose: ‘This is sex as it exists in pornography, but more generally, this is the enter- prise of our entire culture, whose natural condition is obscene: a culture of monstration, of demonstration, of productive monstrosity’ (S, 35).

The obscene denotes much more than a simple moralistic condemna- tion. The prefix ob refers to the idea of hindering or being against. The ob-scene therefore expresses the collapse of distance in our social experi- ence and the deleterious effect this has on our ability to experience reality in a non-mediated state. The scene traditionally viewed upon a stage necessitates a gap between the viewer and the actor (for example, the thea- tre’s proscenium arch), but now that distance has imploded and there is no longer the necessary separation from the scene or stage of action that allows us to witness or reflect upon events properly.

Paradoxically, we are now so close to the action we fail to see it: ‘We no longer partake of the drama of alienation, but are in the ecstasy of communica- tion. And this ecstasy is obscene. Obscene is that which eliminates the gaze, the image and every representation’ (EC, 22). Obscenity can thus be under- stood as a qualitative description of the lived in experience of the society of the spectacle. For Baudrillard, the mediascape’s promotion of fascination represents a social sphere emptied out of the more enchanted and seductive properties present in a symbol-rich pre-mediated society. Obscene culture is an etiolated, pervasively commodified realm of signs rather than events.

In the essay ‘Dust Breeding’ (CA) Baudrillard discusses Loft Story, a French version of the Big Brother programme, and Catherine Millet, the author of a best-selling autobiographical account of a large number of compulsively anonymous sexual encounters – The Sexual Life of Catherine M. Both, he says, represent the simulation of real experience. Reality TV seeks to ‘screen’ society thereby manifesting the situationist notion of the specta- cle as society’s universal concept, while Millet’s couplings reduce seduction to a mechanical act. Each example rests upon the privileging of the synthetic over the original, a tele-genetically modified culture becomes the corollary of bio-genetically orientated science. Notwithstanding the media’s status as a purportedly key element of democratic society, the obscene serves to elim- inate the meaningfully political and replaces it with a transpolitical culture:

"The transpolitical is the transparency and obscenity of all structures in a destruc- tured universe . . . in a dehistoricized universe . . . in a universe emptied of event, the transparency and obscenity of space in the promiscuity of networks, transpar- ency and obscenity of the social in the masses, of the political in terror, of the body in obesity and genetic cloning . . . "(FS, 45)

Meaning in a society of the obscene is decontextualised from its ground- ing in history and grounded symbolism, marks a ‘passage from growth to excrescence, from finality to hypertely, from organic equilibria to cancer- ous metastases. This is the site of a catastrophe . . .’ (FS, 46). In such a catastrophic culture, Millet becomes the literal embodiment of the culture industry’s inability to grasp the paradox that the true nature of social reality is to be found in its shrouding, not in its blatant exposure.

‘Think like a woman taking off her dress,’ said Bataille. Yes, but the naiveté of all the Catherine Millets is to think that they are taking of their dress to get undressed, to be naked and therefore reach the naked truth, the truth of sex or of the world. (CA, 186)

The paradoxical truth of Baudrillard’s notion of obscenity reduces the communicants of the new global media networks to the mythical fate of Tantalus – the more one seeks to reveal society in an excessively explicit and systematic fashion, the further away we push it.

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PostSubject: Re: Baudrillard Sun Sep 01, 2013 8:47 pm

Music.

Quote :
The drive towards the technical perfection of music, the ‘stereo effect’ of quadrophonics, high fidelity and hyperstereo, has drawn comment from Baudrillard on a number of occasions (S, IE, CM, F, LP). In Seduction (1990a [1979]) he describes the invention of quadraphonic musical repro- duction, with its addition of a fourth dimension to give perfect sound reproduction, as obscene: ‘The technical delirium of the perfect restitu- tion of music (Bach, Monteverdi, Mozart!) that has never existed, that no one has ever heard, and that was not meant to be heard like this’ (S, 30). It is not that Baudrillard laments the loss of ‘authentic’ or ‘real’ music, but rather that he considers ‘perfect music’ as charmless, fascinating but not seductive:
At the heart of hi-fi, music threatens to disappear. At the heart of experimenta- tion, the object of science threatens to disappear. At the heart of pornography, sexuality threatens to disappear. Everywhere we find the same stereophonic effect, the same effect of absolute proximity to the real, the same effect of simula- tion. (IE, 6)

Music approaches its vanishing point as its production becomes a realm of activity that is governed by a drive for flawless technical execution: ‘a false destiny for music’ (CM, 83). Baudrillard describes his experience of quadraphonic rooms, on a visit to Japan in the 1970s, as that of the simu- lation of a total environment where one has the experience of ‘a sort of musical perfect crime’ (F, 66).

In other words, the perfection of the repro- duction (also evident in CDs and the ‘composing’ of music on comput- ers), the addition of new dimensions (‘triphony, then quadriphony, then multiphony’ (F, 66)), is predicated upon the elimination of a ‘specifically musical illusion’ (F, 66), such as that which is afforded by the ‘live experi- ence’ of the concert hall or opera house where music is heard at a certain distance. More recently, Baudrillard has equated the perfect reproduction of music with ‘the Virtual’ (‘the more perfect the reproduction, the more it becomes virtual’ (F, 66)) and ‘integral reality’ (‘integral music’ (LP, 27)) implying that music has merged into its own model: ‘The sounds of such music are no longer the play of a form, but the actualization of a pro- gramme. It is a music reduced to a pure wavelength, the final reception of which, the tangible effect on the listener, is exactly programmed too, as in a closed circuit’ (LP, 28).

The news that vinyl records are now back in demand would perhaps meet with Baudrillard’s approval. The once seemingly extinct format, whose heyday was in the 1960s and 1970s, is once again the height of ‘music cool’ because of – among other things – the ‘imperfection’ of its audio reproduction: the noise and static that makes it more ‘musical’. Indeed, the song entitled Jean Baudrillard by the English band Maxïmo Park is available on 7-inch white vinyl; perhaps this is so that we can enjoy its imperfection, its distance from the vanishing point, its musicality.

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PostSubject: Re: Baudrillard Tue Dec 03, 2013 2:48 pm

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PostSubject: Re: Baudrillard Wed Feb 26, 2014 6:33 am

Quote :
"The "ludic" is formed of the "play" of the model with the demand. But given that the demand is prompted by the model, and the model's precession is absolute, challenges are impossible. Most of our exchanges are regulated by game strategies; but the latter, defined as a capacity to foresee all of one's opponent's moves and check them in advance, renders all stakes impossible. Game theory describes the ludic character of a world where, paradoxically, nothing is at stake.
The "Werbung," the solicitation of advertisements and polls, all the models of the media and politics, no longer claim credence, only credibility.They are no longer objects of libidinal investment; for they are made selectively available within a range of choices - with leisure itself now appearing, relative to work, as just another channel on the screen of time (and will there soon be a third or fourth channel?). American television, one might add, with its 83 channels is the living incarnation of the ludic: one can no longer do anything but play - change channels, mix programs and create one's own montage (the predominance of TV games is merely an echo, at the level of content, of this ludic employment of the medium). And like every combinatorial, it is a source of fascination'. But one can no longer speak of a sphere of enchantment or seduction; instead, an era of fascination is beginning." [Baudrillard, Seduction]

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PostSubject: Re: Baudrillard Wed Feb 26, 2014 6:33 am

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"Artificial intelligence is devoid of intelligence because it is devoid of artifice. True artifice is the artifice of the body in the throes of passion, the artifice of the sign in seduction, the artifice of ambivalence in gesture, the artifice of ellipsis in language, the artifice of the mask before the face, the artifice of the pithy remark that completely alters meaning. So-called intelligent machines deploy artifice only in the feeblest sense of the word, breaking linguistic, sexual or cognitive acts down into their simplest elements and digitizing them so that they can be resynthesized according to models. They can generate all the possibilities of a program or of a potential object. But artifice is in no way concerned with what generates, merely with what alters, reality. Artifice is the power of illusion. These machines have the artlessness of pure calculation, and the games they offer are based solely on commutations and combinations. In this sense they may be said to be virtuous, as well as virtual: they can never succumb to their own object; they are immune even to the seduction of their own knowledge. Their virtue resides in their transparency, their functionality, their absence of passion and artifice. Artificial Intelligence is a celibate machine." [Baudrillard, Vital Illusion]

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PostSubject: Re: Baudrillard Wed Feb 26, 2014 6:34 am

Quote :
"And in the orgasm.

The despoilment of the orgasm, the absence of sexual pleasure, is often advanced as characteristic of women's oppression. A flagrant injustice whose immediate rectification everyone must pursue in accord with the injunctions of a sort of long-distance race or sex rally. Sexual pleasure has become a requisite and a fundamental right. The most recent of the rights of man,it has acceded to the dignity of a categorical imperative. It is immoral to act otherwise. But this imperative does not even have the Kantian charm of endless finalities. As the management and self-management of desire, its imposition does not, no more than that of the law, allow ignorance as a defense." [Baudrillard, Seduction]

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PostSubject: Re: Baudrillard Wed Feb 26, 2014 6:34 am

Quote :
"Sexual liberation, like that of the productive forces, is potentially limitless.It demands a profusion come true, a "sexually affluent society."
It can no more tolerate a scarcity of sexual goods, than of material goods. Now, this utopian continuity and availability can only be incarnated by the female sex.
This is why in this society everything - objects, goods, services, relations of all types - will be ferninized, sexualized in a feminine fashion. In advertising it is not so much a matter of adding sex to washing machines (which is absurd) as conferring on objects the imaginary, female quality of being available at will, of never being retractile or aleatory.

Henceforth one no longer says:"You have a soul and it must be saved," but: '

"You have a sex, and you must put it to good use."

"You have an unconscious, and you must let the id speak."

"You have a body, and you must derive pleasure from it."

"You have a libido, and you must expend it,"etc.

This pressure towards liquidity, flux and the accelerated articulation of the sexual, psychic and physical body is an exact replica of that which regulates exchange value: capital must circulate, there must no longer be any fixed point,investments must be ceaselessly renewed, value must radiate without respite - this is the form of value's present realization, and sexuality, the sexual model, is simply its mode of appearance at the level of the body.

As a model sex takes the form of an individual enterprise based on natural energy: to each his desire and may the best man prevail (in matters of pleasure). It is the selfsame form as capital...

Moreover, the body - this selfsame body to which we ceaselessly refer - has no other reality than that implied by the sexual and productive, model. It is capital that, in a single movement, gives rise to both the energizing body of labour power, and the body of our dreams, a sanctuary of desires and drives, of psychic energy and the unconscious, the impulsive body that haunts the primary processes - the body itself having become a primary process, and thereby an anti-body, an ultimate revolutionary referent.
When one uncovers in the body's secret places an "unbound" libidinal energy opposed to the "bound" energy of the productive body, when one uncovers in desire the truth of the body's phantasms and drives, one is still only disintering the psychic metaphor of capital.

Here is your desire, your unconscious: a psychic metaphor of capital in the rubbish heap of political economy.And the sexual jurisdiction is but a fantastic extension of the common- place ideal of private-property, where everyone is assigned a certain amount of capital to manage :a psychic capital, a libidinal, sexual or unconscious capital, for which each person will have to answer individually, under the sign of his or her own liberation.

Henceforth, in place of a seductive form, there is a productive form, an "economy" of sex: the retrospective of a drive, the hallucination of a stock of sexual energy, of an unconscious in which the repression of desire and its clearance are inscribed. All this (and the psychic in general) results from the autonomization of sex - as nature and the economy were once the precipitate of the autonomization of production. Nature and desire, both of them idealized, succeed each other in the progressive designs for liberation, yesterday the liberation of the productive forces, today that of the body and sex.

The fact remains that both the Father and Mother have disappeared, and in favour of a matrix/code [the word "matrice" means both "matrix" and "womb"].
No more mother, just a matrix. And henceforth it is the matrix of the genetic code that will "give birth" without end in an operative manner purged of all contingent sexuality." [Baudrillard, Seduction]


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PostSubject: Re: Baudrillard Wed Feb 26, 2014 6:35 am

Quote :
"Ecstasy of the social: the masses. More social than the social.
Ecstasy of the body: obesity. Fatter than fat.
Ecstasy of information: simulation. Truer than true.
Ecstasy of time: real time, instantaneity. More present than the present.
Ecstasy of the real: the hyperreal. More real than the real.
Ecstasy of sex: porn. More sexual than sex.
Ecstasy of violence: terror. More violent than violence. . . .

All this describes, by a kind of potentiation, a raising to the second power, a pushing to the limit, a state of unconditional realization, of total positivity (every negative sign raised to the second power produces a positive), from which all utopia, all death, and all negativity have been expunged. A state of ex-termination, cleansing of the negative, as corollary to all the other actual forms of purification and discrimination. Thus, freedom has been obliterated, liquidated by liberation; truth has been supplanted by verification; the community has been liquidated and absorbed by communication; form gives way to information and performance. Everywhere we see a paradoxical logic: the idea is destroyed by its own realization, by its own excess. And in this way history itself comes to an end, finds itself obliterated by the instantaneity and omnipresence of the event." [Baudrillard, Vital Illusion]

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PostSubject: Re: Baudrillard Wed Feb 26, 2014 6:35 am

Quote :
"Inasmuch as bodies are less and less able to count on their own antibodies, they are more and more in need of protection from outside. An artificial sterilization of all environments must compensate for faltering internal immunological defences. And if these are indeed faltering, it is because the irreversible process often referred to as progress tends to strip the human body and mind of their systems of initiative and defence, reassign­ing these functions to technical artifacts. Once dispossessed of their defences, human beings become eminently vulnerable to science and technology; dis­possessed of their passions, they likewise become eminently vulnerable to psychology and its attendant therapies; similarly, too, once relieved of emo­tions and illnesses, they become eminently vulnerable to medicine.

Thought, itself a sort of network of antibodies and natural immune defences, is also highly vulnerable. It is in acute danger of being conveniently replaced by an electronic cerebrospinal bubble from which any animal or metaphysical reflex has been expunged. Even without all the technological advantages of the Boy in the Bubble, we are already living in the bubble ourselves - in which we have taken refuge and where we remain, bereft of everything yet overprotected, doomed to artificial immunity, continual transfusions and, at the slightest contact with the world outside, instant death.
This is why we are all losing our defences - why we are all potentially immunodeficient." [Baudrillard, Vital Illusion]

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PostSubject: Re: Baudrillard Wed Feb 26, 2014 6:36 am

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"Even the sex to which we belong - that small portion of destiny still remaining to us, that minimum of fatality and otherness - will be changeable at will. Not to mention cosmetic surgery as applied to green spaces, to nature in general, to genes, to events, to history (e.g. the French Revolution revised and corrected - given a facelift under the banner of human rights). Everything has to become postsynchable according to criteria of optimal convenience and compatibility. This inhuman formalization of face, speech, sex, body, will and public opinion is a tendency everywhere in evidence. Every last glimmer of fate and negativity has to be expunged in favour of something resembling the smile of a corpse in a funeral home, in favour of a general redemption of signs. To this end a gigantic campaign of plastic surgery has been undertaken.

Everything has to be sacrificed to the principle that things must have an operational genesis. So far as production is concerned, it is no longer the Earth that produces, or labour that creates wealth (the famous betrothal of Earth and Labour): rather, it is Capital that makes the Earth and Labour produce. Work is no longer an action, it is an operation. Communication is operational or it is nothing. Information is operational or it is nothing." [Baudrillard, The Transparency of Evil]

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PostSubject: Re: Baudrillard Wed Feb 26, 2014 6:36 am

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"We are now governed not so much by growth as by growths. Ours is a society founded on proliferation, on growth which continues even though it cannot be measured against any clear goals. An excrescential society whose development is uncontrollable, occurring without regard for self-definition, where the accumulation of effects goes hand in hand with the disappearance of causes. The upshot is gross systemic congestion and malfunction caused by hypertelia - by an excess of functional imperatives, by a sort of saturation. There is no better analogy here than the metastatic process in cancer: a loss of the body's organic ground rules such that a given group of cells is able to deploy its incoercible and murderous vitality, to defy genetic programming and to proliferate endlessly.

This process is not a critical one: crisis is always a matter of causality, of an imbalance between cause and effect to which a solution will be found (or not) by attending to causes. In our case, by contrast, it is the causes themselves that are tending to disappear, tending to become indecipherable, and giving way to an intensification of processes operating in a void.

Deficiency is never a complete disaster, but saturation is fatal, for it produces a sort of tetanized inertia.

The striking thing about all present-day systems is their bloatedness: the means we have devised for handling data - communication, record-keeping, storage, production and destruction - are all in a condition of Idemonic pregnancy' (to borrow Susan Sontag's description of cancer). So lethargic are they, indeed, that they will assuredly never again serve a useful purpose. It is not we that have put an end to use-value - rather, the system itself has eliminated it through surplus production. So many things have been produced and accumulated that they can never possibly all be put to use. So many messages and signals are produced and disseminated that they can never possibly all be read. A good thing for us too - for even with the tiny portion that we do manage to absorb, we are in a state of permanent electrocution.

There is something particularly nauseating about this prodigious useless­ness, about a proliferating yet hypertrophied world which cannot give birth to anything. So many reports, archives, documents - and not a single idea generated; so many plans, programmes, decisions - and not a single event precipitated; so many sophisticated weapons produced - and no war declared!

This saturation goes way beyond the surplus that Bataille spoke of; all societies have found some way to dispose of that through useless or sump­ tuous expense. There is no possible way for us to spend all that has been accumulated - all we have in prospect is a slow or brutal decompensation, with each factor of acceleration serving to create inertia, bringing us closer to absolute inertia. What we call crisis is in fact a foreshadowing of this absolute inertia." [Baudrillard, The Transparency of Evil]

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PostSubject: Re: Baudrillard Wed Feb 26, 2014 6:37 am

Quote :
"AIDS is the reflection not so much of an excess of sex or sexual pleasure as of sex's decompensation through its general spread into all areas of life, its venting through all the trivial variants of sexual incantation. The real loss of immunity concerns sex as a whole, with the disappearance of sexual difference and hence of sexuality per se." [Baudrillard, The Transparency of Evil]

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PostSubject: Re: Baudrillard Wed Feb 26, 2014 6:37 am

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"In periods of scarcity, absorption and assimilation are the order of the day. In periods of abundance, rejection and expulsion are the chief concerns. Today, generalized communication and surplus information threa­ten to overwhelm all human defences. Symbolic space, the mental space of judgement, has no protection whatsoever. Not only am I unable to decide whether something is beautiful or not, original or not, but the biological organism itself is at a loss to know what is good for it and what is not. In such circumstances everything becomes a bad object, and the only primitive defence is abreaction or rejection.

Laughter itself is more often than not a vital abreaction to the disgust we feel for the monstrous mixing and promiscuity that confront us. But for all that we may gag on the absence of differentiation, it still fascinates us. We love to mix everything up, even if it simultaneously repels us. The reaction whereby the organism seeks to preserve its symbolic integrity is a vital one, even if the price paid is life itself (as in the rejection of a transplanted heart). Why would bodies not resist the arbitrary swapping of organs and cells? Also: why do cells, in cancer, refuse to carry out their assigned functions?

It is true in a sense that nothing really disgusts us any more. In our eclectic culture, which embraces the debris of all others in a promiscuous confusion, nothing is unacceptable. But for this very reason disgust is nevertheless on the increase - the desire to spew out this promiscuity, this indifference to every­ thing no matter how bad, this viscous adherence of opposites. To the extent that this happens, what is on the increase is disgust over the lack of disgust." [Baudrillard, The Transparency of Evil]

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PostSubject: Re: Baudrillard Wed Feb 26, 2014 6:38 am

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"The law that is imposed on us is the law of the confusion of categories. Everything is sexual. Everything is political. Everything is aesthetic. All at once. Everything has acquired a political meaning, especially since 1968; and it is not just everyday life but also madness, language, the media, even desire, that are politicized as they enter the sphere of liberation, the sphere of mass processes. Likewise everything has become sexual, anything can be an object of desire: power, knowledge - everything is interpreted in terms of phantasies, in terms of repression, and sexual stereotypy reigns in every last corner.

Likewise, too, everything is now aestheticized: politics is aestheticized in the spectacle, sex in advertising and porn, and all kinds of activity in what is conventionally referred to as culture - a sort of all-pervasive media- and advertising-led semiologization: 'culture degree Xerox'.
Each category is generalized to the greatest possible extent, so that it eventually loses all specificity and is reabsorbed by all the other categories.

When everything is political, nothing is political any more, the word itself is meaningless. When everything is sexual, nothing is sexual any more, and sex loses its determi­nants. When everything is aesthetic, nothing is beautiful or ugly any more, and art itself disappears. This paradoxical state of affairs, which is simultaneously the complete actualization of an idea, the perfect realization of the whole tendency of modernity, and the negation of that idea and that tendency, their annihilation by virtue of their very success, by virtue of their extension beyond their own bounds - this state of affairs is epitomized by a single figure: the transpolitical, the transsexual, the transaesthetic.

There is no longer an avant-garde, political, sexual or artistic, embodying a capacity for anticipation; hence the possibility of any radical critique - whether in the name of desire, of revolution, or of the liberation of forms - no longer exists. The days of that revolutionary movement are gone. The glorious march of modernity has not led to the transformation of all values, as we once dreamed it would, but instead to a dispersal and involution of value whose upshot for us is total confusion - the impossibility of apprehending any determining principle, whether of an aesthetic, a sexual or a political kind." [Baudrillard, The Transparency of Evil]

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PostSubject: Re: Baudrillard Wed Feb 26, 2014 6:38 am

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"If I were asked to characterize the present state of affairs, I would describe it as 'after the orgy'. The orgy in question was the moment when modernity exploded upon us, the moment of liberation in every sphere. Political lib­eration, sexual liberation, liberation of the forces of production, liberation of the forces of destruction, women's liberation, children's liberation, liberation of unconscious drives, liberation of art. The assumption of all models of representation, as of all models of anti-representation. This was a total orgy ­ an orgy of the real, the rational, the sexual, of criticism as of anti-criticism, of development as of the crisis of development. We have pursued every avenue in the production and effective overproduction of objects, signs, messages, ideologies and satisfactions.
We live amid the interminable reproduction of ideals, phantasies, images and dreams which are now behind us, yet which we must continue to reproduce in a sort of inescapable indifference.

Everywhere what has been liberated has been liberated so that it can enter a state of pure circulation, so that it can go into orbit. With the benefit of a little hindsight, we may say that the unavoidable goal of all liberation is to foster and provision circulatory networks. The fate of the things liberated is an incessant commutation, and these things are thus subject to increasing inde­terminacy, to the principle of uncertainty.

Nothing (not even God) now disappears by coming to an end, by dying." [Baudrillard, Transparency of Evil]

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PostSubject: Re: Baudrillard Wed Feb 26, 2014 6:38 am

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"The slave's status is not of this kind. He is connected and the sovereignty of the master is not the transcendence of authority as we know it; it is a personal domination that must not be confused with the scheme of master subject and of slave object (which is our form of rational and contractual exchange in which each subject is an object for the other). Domination, as distinct from alienation and exploitation, does not involve the objectification of the dominated, but an obligation that always carries an element of reciprocity.
We have a tendency to reinterpret the relation of slavery (or servitude) as the maximum limit of exploitation and alienation in comparison to our economic configuration and our psychology of subject and object. We consider the passage to salaried labor as "liberation" and objective, historical progress. Yet this view participates in the illusion of Western humanist rationality, a rationality incarnated in the thread of history by the abstract, political State which, when instituted, attributes all earlier forms of domination to the irrational. But it is not true that domination is only an archaic and barbaric form of power. The concept of power with all that it implies about the abstraction and alienation of social relations, about exploiter-exploited relations, etc., has value, strictly speaking, only when applied to our kind of social organization. To project it indiscriminately on earlier forms of domination, explaining the differences as some historical underdevelopment, is to miscomprehend all that the earlier formations can teach us about the symbolic operation of social relations." [Baudrillard, The Mirror of Production]

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PostSubject: Re: Baudrillard Wed Feb 26, 2014 6:39 am

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"The same blind determinism-in-several-instances leads to the same kind of incomprehension of magic:
"For primitive man, labor is experienced and thought as the interior and indivisible unity of magic and technical knowledge."

In other words, the Trobrianders "know" that it is necessary to work in their gardens, but they think that this work is not enough and that magic is indispensable in order to guarantee the harvest. Magic is basically only insurance on the productive forces of nature! "By his magical practices, man thinks he can insert himself in the natural order's chain of necessary causalities."
In nature he sees forces "that he spontaneously endows with human attributes." He conceives of it "by analogy with society, as a network of intentional relations" where the rituals and magical practices were designed to underhandedly influence these forces, etc.

This vulgar rewriting of magic is always dominated by the prejudice of a separated nature and man, a separated nature and society then rethought "by analogy" and by the image of a primitive (naive-mischievous, rational-irrational) who compels nature to produce by transforming it through labor or manipulating it through signs.
Projected here is the worst Western psychology, our own melange of rational pragmatism and superstitious obsession. It is hard to imagine for what "mysterious reason," as Godelier says, control of forces could coexist with a rational operation, if not by his own magic of "the interior and indivisible unity" above. It is not true for archaic agriculture, as Vernant demonstrates in Travail et nature dans la Gréce ancienne: nor, a fortiori, for the primitive hunter or farmer. Like the Greek peasant, the primitive "contributes much less to the harvest by his pains than by the periodic repetition of rites and festivals."

Neither land nor effort is a "factor of production." Effort is not "invested labor power" recovered many times over in value at the end of a production process. It is in a different form as full of ritual as the exchange-gift lost and given without economic calculation of return and compensation. And the fruits of the harvest are not its "equivalent." As by an excess, they maintain exchange (the symbolic coherence of the group with the gods and nature). Moreover, part of the harvest will immediately be returned as first-fruits in the process of sacrifice and consumption in order to preserve this symbolic movement. Above all, it must never be interrupted because nothing is ever taken from nature without being returned to it. Primitive man does not chop one tree or trace one furrow without "appeasing the spirits" with a counter-gift or sacrifice. This taking and returning, giving and receiving, is essential. It is always an actualization of symbolic exchange through gods. The final product is never aimed for. There is neither behavior aiming to produce useful values for the group through technical means, nor behavior aiming at the same end by magical means. (This is really why there is no scarcity. Scarcity only exists in our own linear perspective of the accumulation of goods. Here it suffices that the cycle of gifts and counter-gifts is not interrupted.) And it is simply absurd to define primitive activity as abstract subjectivity (utility) or objective transformation (labor or suppletory magic).

Magic in the sense that we understand it, as a direct objective appropriation of natural forces, is a concept only negatively determined by our rational concept of labor. To articulate magic and labor in one "interior and indivisible unity" only seals their disjunction. It ultimately disqualifies primitive symbolic practices as irrational in opposition to rational labor.

Marx says, "All mythology masters and dominates and shapes the forces of nature in and through imagination, hence it disappears as soon as man gains mastery over the forces of nature...: is Achilles possible side by side with powder and lead? Or is the Iliad at all compatible with the printing press and steam press?" This crushing argument masks the entire problematic of the symbolic under a functionalist finalist retrospective view of mythology (and magic) in which it only awaits man's rational and technical domination in order to disappear." [Baudrillard, The Mirror of Production]

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PostSubject: Re: Baudrillard Wed Feb 26, 2014 6:39 am

Quote :
"Primitive "society" does not exist as an instance apart from symbolic exchange; and this exchange never results from an "excess" of production. It is the opposite: to the extent that these terms apply here,
"subsistence" and "economic exchange" are the residue of symbolic exchange, a remainder. Symbolic circulation is primordial. Things of functional use are taken from that sphere (ultimately the substraction will be null and everything will be symbolically consumed). Nothing remains because survival is not a principle. We have made it one. For the primitives, eating, drinking, and living are first of all acts that are exchanged: if they are not exchanged, they do not occur.

But the "residual" is still too arithmetic. In fact, there is a certain type of exchange, symbolic exchange, where the relation (not the "social") is tied, and this exchange excludes any surplus: anything that cannot be exchanged or symbolically shared would break the reciprocity and institute power. Better yet, this exchange excludes all "production." The exchanged goods are apportioned and limited, often imported from far away according to strict rules. Why?
Because, given over to individual or group production, they would risk being proliferated and thereby break the fragile mechanism of reciprocity. Godelier says that "Everything happens as if primitive societies had instituted scarcity."

But this "scarcity" is not the quantitative, restrictive scarcity of a market economy: it is neither privative nor antithetical to "abundance." It is the condition of symbolic exchange and circulation. It is not the socio-cultural realm that limits "potential" production; instead, exchange itself is based on non-production, eventual destruction, and a process of continuous unlimited reciprocity between persons, and inversely on a strict limitation of exchanged goods.

It is the exact opposite of our economy based on unlimited production of goods and on the discontinuous abstraction of contractual exchange. In primitive exchange, production appears nowhere as an end or a means: the meaning occurs elsewhere. It is not there as (even underlying) potential.
On the contrary, in its accumulative finality and its rational autonomy (production is always end and means), it is continually negated and volatilized by reciprocal exchange which consumes itself in an endless operation." [Baudrillard, The Mirror of Production]

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PostSubject: Re: Baudrillard Wed Feb 26, 2014 6:40 am

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"This separation from Nature under the sign of the principle of production is fully realized by the capitalist system of political economy, but obviously it does not emerge with political economy. The separation is rooted in the great Judaeo-Christian dissociation of the soul and Nature. God created man in his image and created Nature for man's use. The soul is the spiritual hinge by which man is God's image and is radically distinguished from the rest of Nature (and from his own body):
"Uniquely in its Western form, Christianity is the most anthropocentric religion the world has ever known. In absolute contrast to ancient paganism and oriental religions, Christianity not only institutes a dualism of Man and Nature but also affirms that God's will is that man exploit Nature according to his own ends."

Rationality begins here. It is the end of paganism, animism and the "magical" immersion of man in nature, all of which is reinterpreted as superstition. ("Rational" Marxism makes the same error by reinterpreting it in terms of the "rudimentary" development of productive forces.)
Hence although science, technology, and material production subsequently enter into contradiction with the cultural order and the dogmas of Christianity, nonetheless their condition of possibility remains the Christian postulate of man's transcendence of nature. This is why a scientific movement does not emerge in Greece. Greek rationality remains based on a conformity with nature radically distinguished from the Christian rationality and "freedom" based on the separation of man and nature and on the domination of nature.

This separation immediately establishes not a work ethic (of material domination and production) but an ethic of asceticism, suffering, and self-mortification: an "other-worldly" ethic of sublimation, in Max Weber's expression. Not a productive morality but a fixed order is outlined, in which well-being is to be "earned." And this is an individualist enterprise. The passage from the ascetic to the productive mode, from mortification to labor, and from the finality of welfare to the secularized finality of needs (with the Puritan transition at the origin of capitalism where work and rational calculation still have an ascetic, intra-worldly character and an orientation toward well- being) changes nothing in the principle of separation and sublimation, repression and operational violence. Well-being and labor are both well within the realm of ends and means. From ascetic practices to productive practices (and from the latter to consumer practices) there is thus desublimation; but the desublimation is only a metamorphosis of repressive sublimation. The ethical dimension is secularized under the sign of the material domination of nature.

Christianity is thus on the hinge of a rupture of symbolic exchanges. The ideological form most appropriate to sustain the intensive rational exploitation of nature takes form within Christianity during a long transition: from the 13-14th century when work begins to be imposed as value, up to the 16th century when work is organized around its rational and continuous scheme of value -- the capitalist productive enterprise and the system of political economy, that secular generalization of the Christian axiom about nature. But this revolution of the rational calculus of production which Weber noted is not the beginning; it is prefigured in the Christian rupture. Political economy is only a kind of actualization of this break." [Baudrillard, The Mirror of Production]

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PostSubject: Re: Baudrillard Wed Feb 26, 2014 6:40 am

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"Marxism has not disencumbered itself of the moral philosophy of the Enlightenment. It has rejected its naive and sentimental side (Rousseau and Bernardin de Saint-Pierre), its cloying and fantastic religiosity (from the noble savage and the Age of Gold to the sorcerer's apprentice), but it holds onto the religion: the moralizing phantasm of a Nature to be conquered.

By secularizing it in the economic concept of scarcity, Marxism keeps the idea of Necessity without transforming it. The idea of "natural Necessity" is only a moral idea dictated by political economy, the ethical and philosophical version of that bad Nature systematically connected with the arbitrary postulate of the economic. In the mirror of the economic, Nature looks at us with the eyes of necessity.

Marx says, "Just as the savage must wrestle with Nature to satisfy his wants, to maintain and reproduce life, so must civilized man, and he must do so in all social formations and under all possible modes of production. With his development this realm of physical necessity expands as a result of his wants: but, at the same time, the forces in production which satisfy these wants also increase."

What is not recognized here -- and what allies Marx with the foundations of political economy -- is that in his symbolic exchanges primitive man does not guage himself in relation to Nature. He is not aware of Necessity, a Law that takes effect only with the objectification of Nature. The Law takes its definitive form in capitalist political economy; moreover, it is only the philosophical expression of Scarcity. Scarcity, which itself arises in the market economy, is not a given dimension of the economy. Rather, it is what produces and reproduces economic exchange. In that regard it is different from primitive exchange, which knows nothing of this "Law of Nature" that pretends to be the ontological dimension of man.
Marxism's transcending perspective will always be burdened by counter- dependence on political economy. Against Necessity it will oppose the mastery of Nature; against Scarcity it will oppose Abundance ("to each according to his needs") without ever resolving either the arbitrariness of these concepts or their idealist overdetermination by political economy." [Baudrillard, The Mirror of Production]

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PostSubject: Re: Baudrillard Wed Feb 26, 2014 6:41 am

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"Marx indeed "denaturalized" private property, the mechanisms of competition and the market, and the processes of labor and capital; but he failed to question the following naturalist propositions:

-- the useful finality of products as a function of needs;
-- the useful finality of nature as a function of its transformation by labor.

The functionality of Nature structured by labor, and the corresponding functionality of the subject structured around needs, belong to the anthropological sphere of use value described by Enlightenment rationality and defined for a whole civilization (which imposed it on others) by a certain kind of abstract, linear, irreversible finality: a certain model subsequently extended to all sectors of individual and social practice.

This operational finality is arbitrary in such a way that the concept of Nature it forgets resists integration within it. It looks as if forcefully rationalized Nature reemerges elsewhere in an irrational form. Without ceasing to be ideological, the concept splits into a "good" Nature that is dominated and rationalized (which acts as the ideal cultural reference) and a "bad" Nature that is hostile, menacing, catastrophic, or polluted. All bourgeois ideology divides between these two poles.

The same split occurs simultaneously at the level of man, through his idealist simplification as an element of the economic system. Starting with the 18th century, the idea of Man divides into a naturally good man (a projection of man sublimated as a productive force) and an instinctively evil man endowed with evil powers. The entire philosophical debate is organized around these sham alternatives, which result simply from the elevation of man to an economic abstraction. Marxism and all revolutionary perspectives are aligned on the optimist vision. They preserve the idea of an innate human rationality, a positive potentiality that must be liberated, even in the latest Freudo-Marxist version in which the unconscious itself is reinterpreted as "natural" wealth, a hidden positivity that will burst forth in the revolutionary act." [Baudrillard, The Mirror of Production]


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PostSubject: Re: Baudrillard Wed Feb 26, 2014 6:41 am

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"Marcuse, who returns to the less puritanical (less Hegelian) conceptions, which, however, are totally philosophical (Schiller's esthetic philosophy), says that
"Play and display, as principles of civilization, imply not the transformation of labor but its complete subordination to the freely evolving potentialities of man and nature. The ideas of play and display now reveal their full distance from the values of productiveness and performance. Play is unproductive and useless precisely because it cancels the repressive and exploitative traits of labor and leisure..."

This realm beyond political economy called play, non-work, or non-alienated labor, is defined as the reign of a finality without end. In this sense it is and remains an esthetic, in the extremely Kantian sense, with all the bourgeois ideological connotations which that implies.

In effect, the sphere of play is defined as the fulfillment of human rationality, the dialectical culmination of man's activity of incessant objectification of nature and control of his exchanges with it. It presupposes the full development of productive forces; it "follows in the footsteps" of the reality principle and the transformation of nature. Marx clearly states that it can flourish only when founded on the reign of necessity. Wishing itself beyond labor but in its continuation, the sphere of play is always merely the esthetic sublimation of labor's constraints. With this concept we remain rooted in the problematic of necessity and freedom, a typically bourgeois problematic whose double ideological expression has always been the institution of a reality principle (repression and sublimation, the principle of labor) and its formal overcoming in an ideal transcendence.

Work and non-work: here is a "revolutionary" theme. It is undoubtedly the most subtle form of the type of binary, structural opposition discussed above. The end of the end of exploitation by work is this reverse fascination with non-work, this reverse mirage of free time (forced time-free time, full time-empty time: another paradigm that fixes the hegemony of a temporal order which is always merely that of production). Non-work is still only the repressive desublimation of labor power, the antithesis which acts as the alternative.

Such is the sphere of non-work: even if it is not immediately conflated with leisure and its present bureaucratic organization, where the desire for death and mortification and its management by social institutions are as powerful as in the sphere of work; even if it is viewed in a radical way which represents it as other than the mode of "total disposability" or "freedom" for the individual to "produce" himself as value, to "express himself," to "liberate himself" as a (conscious or unconscious) authentic content, in short, as the ideality of time and of the individual as an empty form to be filled finally by his freedom.

The finality of value is always there. It is no longer inscribed in determined contents as in the sphere of productive activity; henceforth it is a pure form, though no less determining. Exactly as the pure institutional form of painting, art, and theater shines forth in anti-painting, anti-art, and anti-theater, which are emptied of their contents, the pure form of labor shines forth in non-labor. Although the concept of non-labor can thus be fantasized as the abolition of political economy, it is bound to fall back into the sphere of political economy as the sign, and only the sign, of its abolition." [Baudrillard, The Mirror of Production]

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PostSubject: Re: Baudrillard Wed Feb 26, 2014 6:42 am

Quote :
"Marcuse says: "... insofar as they take the concept of 'needs' and its satisfaction in the world of goods as the starting point, all economic theories fail to recognize the full factual content of labor.... The essential factual content of labor is not grounded in the scarcity of goods, nor in a discontinuity between the world of disposable and utilizable goods and human needs, but, on thecontrary, in an essential excess of human existence beyond every possible situation in which it finds itself and the world."

On this basis he separates off play as a secondary activity: "In the structural sense, within the totality of human existence, labor is necessarily and eternally `earlier' than play: it is the starting point, foundation, and principle of play insofar as play is precisely a breaking off from labor and a recuperation for labor."

Thus, labor alone founds the world as objective and man as historical. In short, labor alone founds a real dialectic of transcendence [dépassement] and fulfillment. Even metaphysically, it justifies the painful character of labor.
"In the last analysis, the burdensome character of labor expresses nothing other than a negativity rooted in the very essence of human existence: man can achieve his own self only by passing through otherness: by passing through 'externalization' and `alienation'."

I cite this long passage only to show how the Marxist dialectic can lead to the purest Christian ethic. (Or its opposite. Today there is a widespread contamination of the two positions on the basis of this transcendence of alienation and this intra-worldly asceticism of effort and overcoming where Weber located the radical germ of the capitalist spirit.)

The Gotha Program bore traces of this confusion. It defined work as 'the source of all wealth and culture.' To which Marx, even worse, objected that man possesses only his labor power, etc. However, the confusion spread more and more: and Joseph Dietzgen announced, 'Work is the Messiah of the modern world. In the amelioration of labor resides the wealth that can now bring what no redeemer has succeeded in'." [Baudrillard, The Mirror of Production]

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PostSubject: Re: Baudrillard Wed Feb 26, 2014 6:42 am

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"Radical in its logical analysis of capital, Marxist theory nonetheless maintains an anthropological consensus with the options of Western rationalism in its definitive form acquired in eighteenth century bourgeois thought. Science, technique, progress, history -- in these ideas we have an entire civilization that comprehends itself as producing its own development and takes its dialecticalforce toward completing humanity in terms of totality and happiness. Nor did Marx invent the concepts of genesis, development, and finality. He changed nothing basic: nothing regarding the idea of man producing himself in his infinite determination, and continually surpassing himself toward his own end.

Marx translated this concept into the logic of material production and the historical dialectic of modes of production. But differentiating modes of production renders unchallengeable the evidence of production as the determinant instance. It generalizes the economic mode of rationality over the entire expanse of human history, as the generic mode of human becoming.

Marx: "Labor is man's coming-to-be for himself within externalization or as externalized man... [that is], the self-creation and self-objectification [of man]."

And even in Capital:
"So far therefore as labor is a creator of use-value, is useful labor, it is a necessary condition, independent of all forms of society, for the existence of the human race; it is an external nature- imposed necessity, without which there can be no material exchanges between man and nature, and therefore no life."
"Labor is, in the first place, a process in which both man and nature participate, and in which man of his own accord starts, regulates, and controls the material reactions between himself and nature. He opposes himself to nature as one of her own forces, setting in motion arms and legs, head and hands, the natural forces of his body, in order to appropriate nature's productions in a form adapted to his own wants."
The dialectical culmination of all of this is the concept of nature as "the inorganic body of man:" the naturalization of man and the humanization of nature.

On this dialectical base, Marxist philosophy unfolds in two directions: an ethic of labor and an esthetic of non-labor. The former traverses all bourgeois and socialist ideology. It exalts labor as value, as end in itself, as categorical imperative. Labor loses its negativity and is raised to an absolute value. But is the "materialist" thesis of man's generic productivity very far from this "idealist" sanctification of labor? In any case, it is dangerously vulnerable to this charge." [Baudrillard, The Mirror of Production]

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PostSubject: Re: Baudrillard Wed Feb 26, 2014 6:43 am

Quote :
"Marx says: "The indifference as to the particular kind of labor implies the existence of a highly developed aggregate of different species of concrete labor, none of which is any longer the predominant one. So do the most general abstractions commonly arise only where there is the highest concrete development, where one feature appears to be jointly possessed by many, and to be common to all."

But if one type of labor no longer dominates all others, it is because labor itself dominates all other realms. Labor is substituted for all other forms of wealth and exchange. Indifference to determined labor corresponds to a much more total determination of social wealth by labor. And what is the conception of this social wealth placed entirely under the sign of labor, if not use value? The "richest concrete development" is the qualitative and quantitative multiplication of use values.

"The greater the extent to which historic needs -- needs created by production itself, social needs -- needs which are themselves the offspring of social production and intercourse, are posited as necessary, the higher the level to which real wealth has become developed. Regarded materially, wealth consists only in the manifold variety of needs."
Is this not the program of advanced capitalist society? Failing to conceive of a mode of social wealth other than that founded on labor and production, Marxism no longer furnishes in the long run a real alternative to capitalism. Assuming the generic schema of production and needs involves an incredible simplification of social exchange by the law of value. Viewed correctly, this fantastic proposition is both arbitrary and strange with respect to man's status in society. The analysis of all primitive or archaic organizations contradicts it, as does the feudal symbolic order and even that of our societies, since all perspectives opened up by the contradictions of the mode of production drive us hopelessly into political economy.

Instead, all this must be overturned to see that the abstract and generalized development of productivity (the developed form of political economy) is what makes the concept of production itself appear as man's movement and generic end (or better, as the concept of man as producer).

In other words, the system of political economy does not produce only the individual as labor power that is sold and exchanged: it produces the very conception of labor power as the fundamental human potential. More deeply than in the fiction of the individual freely selling his labor power in the market, the system is rooted in the identification of the individual with his labor power and with his act of "transforming nature according to human ends."

In a work, man is not only quantitatively exploited as a productive force by the system of capitalist political economy, but is also metaphysically overdetermined as a producer by the code of political economy. In the last instance, the system rationalizes its power here. And in this Marxism assists the cunning of capital. It convinces men that they are alienated by the sale of their labor power, thus censoring the much more radical hypothesis that they might be alienated as labor power, as the "inalienable" power of creating value by their labor." [Baudrillard, The Mirror of Production]

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"ἐδιζησάμην ἐμεωυτόν." [Heraclitus]

"All that exists is just and unjust and equally justified in both." [Aeschylus, Prometheus]

"The history of everyday is constituted by our habits. ... How have you lived today?" [N.]

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PostSubject: Re: Baudrillard Wed Feb 26, 2014 6:43 am

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"The mad, once mute, today are heard by everyone; one has found the grid on which to collect their once absurd and indecipherable messages. Children speak, to the adult universe they are no longer those simultaneously strange and insignificant beings - children signify, they have become significant - not through some sort of "liberation" of their speech, but because adult reason has given itself the most subtle means to avert the threat of their silence. The primitives also are heard, one seeks them out, one listens to them, they are no longer beasts. Levi-Strauss pointed out that their mental structures were the same as ours, psychoanalysis rallied them to Oedipus, and to the libido - all of our codes functioned well, and they responded to them. One had buried them under silence, one buries them beneath speech, "different" speech certainly, but beneath the word of the day, "difference," as formerly one did beneath the unity of Reason; let us not be misled by this, it is the same order that is advancing. The imperialism of reason, neoimperialism of difference.

What is essential is that nothing escape the empire of meaning, the sharing of meaning.

Certainly, behind all that, nothing speaks to us, neither the mad, nor the dead, nor children, nor savages, and fundamentally we know nothing of them, but what is essential is that Reason save face, and that everything escape silence.

We are in a new, and without a doubt insoluble, position in relation to prior forms of nihilism:

Romanticism is its first great manifestation: it, along with the Enlightenment's Revolution, corresponds to the destruction of the order of appearances.

Surrealism, dada, the absurd, and political nihilism are the second great manifestation, which corresponds to the destruction of the order of meaning.

The first is still an aesthetic form of nihilism (dandyism), the second, a political, historical, and metaphysical form (terrorism).

We are in the era of events without consequences (and of theories without consequences)." [Baudrillard, Simulacra and Simulation]

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"ἐδιζησάμην ἐμεωυτόν." [Heraclitus]

"All that exists is just and unjust and equally justified in both." [Aeschylus, Prometheus]

"The history of everyday is constituted by our habits. ... How have you lived today?" [N.]

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PostSubject: Re: Baudrillard Wed Feb 26, 2014 6:44 am

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"The balance of terror is the terror of balance.

Deterrence is not a strategy, it circulates and is exchanged between nuclear protagonists exactly as is international capital in the orbital zone of monetary speculation whose fluctuations suffice to control all global exchanges. Thus the money of destruction (without any reference to real destruction, any more than floating capital has a real referent of production) that circulates in nuclear orbit suffices to control all the violence and potential conflicts around the world.

What is hatched in the shadow of this mechanism with the pretext of a maximal, "objective," threat, and thanks to Damocles' nuclear sword, is the perfection of the best system of control that has ever existed. And the progressive satellization of the whole planet through this hypermodel of security.

The other aspect of this war and of all wars today: behind the armed violence, the murderous antagonism of the adversaries - which seems a matter of life and death, which is played out as such (or else one could never send people to get themselves killed in this kind of thing), behind this simulacrum of fighting to the death and of ruthless global stakes, the two adversaries are fundamentally in solidarity against something else, unnamed, never spoken, but whose objective outcome in war, with the equal complicity of the two adversaries, is total liquidation.

Tribal, communitarian, precapitalist structures, every form of exchange, of language, of symbolic organization, that is what must be abolished, that is the object of murder in war - and war itself, in its immense, spectacular death apparatus, is nothing but the medium of this process of the terrorist rationalization of the social - the murder on which sociality will be founded, whatever its allegiance, Communist or capitalist. Total complicity, or division of labor between two adversaries (who may even consent to enormous sacrifices for it) for the very end of reshaping and domesticating social relations." [Baudrillard, Simulacra and Simulation]

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"ἐδιζησάμην ἐμεωυτόν." [Heraclitus]

"All that exists is just and unjust and equally justified in both." [Aeschylus, Prometheus]

"The history of everyday is constituted by our habits. ... How have you lived today?" [N.]

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PostSubject: Re: Baudrillard Wed Feb 26, 2014 6:44 am

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"The transition from signs that dissimulate something to signs that dissimulate that there is nothing marks a decisive turning point. The first reflects a theology of truth and secrecy (to which the notion of ideology still belongs). The second inaugurates the era of simulacra and of simulation, in which there is no longer a God to recognize his own, no longer a Last Judgment to separate the false from the true, the real from its artificial resurrection, as everything is already dead and resurrected in advance.

Everywhere today one must recycle waste, and the dreams, the phantasms, the historical, fairylike, legendary imaginary of children and adults is a waste product, the first great toxic excrement of a hyperreal civilization. On a mental level, Disneyland is the prototype of this new function. But all the sexual, psychic, somatic recycling institutes, which proliferate in California, belong to the same order. People no longer look at each other, but there are institutes for that. They no longer touch each other, but there is contactotherapy. They no longer walk, but they go jogging, etc. Everywhere one recycles lost faculties, or lost bodies, or lost sociality, or the lost taste for food. One reinvents penury, asceticism, vanished savage naturalness: natural food, health food, yoga.

It is always a question of proving the real through the imaginary, proving truth through scandal, proving the law through transgression, proving work through striking, proving the system through crisis, and capital through revolution, as it is elsewhere (the Tasaday) of proving ethnology through the dispossession of its object - without taking into account:

the proof of theater through antitheater;
the proof of art through antiart;
the proof of pedagogy through antipedagogy;
the proof of psychiatry through antipsychiatry, etc.

Everything is metamorphosed into its opposite to perpetuate itself in its expurgated form. All the powers, all the institutions speak of themselves through denial, in order to attempt, by simulating death, to escape their real death throes. Power can stage its own murder to rediscover a glimmer of existence and legitimacy.

Power itself has for a long time produced nothing but the signs of its resemblance. And at the same time, another figure of power comes into play: that of a collective demand for signs of power - a holy union that is reconstructed around its disappearance. The whole world adheres to it more or less in terror of the collapse of the political. And in the end the game of power becomes nothing but the critical obsession with power - obsession with its death, obsession with its survival, which increases as it disappears. When it has totally disappeared, we will logically be under the total hallucination of power - a haunting memory that is already in evidence everywhere, expressing at once the compulsion to get rid of it (no one wants it anymore, everyone unloads it on everyone else) and the panicked nostalgia over its loss. The melancholy of societies without power:

this has already stirred up fascism, that overdose of a strong referential in a society that cannot terminate its mourning.

With the extenuation of the political sphere, the president comes increasingly to resemble that Puppet of Power who is the head of primitive societies (Clastres)." [Baudrillard, Simulacra and Simulation]

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"ἐδιζησάμην ἐμεωυτόν." [Heraclitus]

"All that exists is just and unjust and equally justified in both." [Aeschylus, Prometheus]

"The history of everyday is constituted by our habits. ... How have you lived today?" [N.]

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