Jean Baudrillard took place
Jean Baudrillard died yesterday in Paris, aged 77.
Though it seems a bit callous to say so after his death, I didn't like Baudrillard. I can't remember reading a single thing by him that I thought wasn't arrogant, pessimistic, obtuse and uninteresting. The few texts I have read (4 or 5 shorter articles, so take with pinch of salt) gave me the distinct impression that Baudrillard really was the thing that Alan Sokal was attacking: a thinker uninterested in community and communication, rigorous thinking and the sharing of ideas, using language not as a device of trust and constructive communication (of whatever sort) but as a smokescreen for banality. I think he gave postmodernism a bad name, and it's a shame he's been grouped together with great thinkers like Jacques Derrida and the like.
His ideas about simulacra leads to ideas of originality and reality which I think is a throwback to Plato, and very unfortunate for the development of criticism of media, culture and capitalism. But most of all, really, I don't like Baudrillard for his pessimism. He was a cultural defeatist, mourning the passing of the real, of the center which never existed. Any philosophy which doesn't point to something constructive, something we can do, is meaningless in my eyes. Why even write, when there's only sadness and defeat? And why write so densely and confusingly? For one self?
So far, the only good thing I have seen that came out of Baudrillard was the misunderstanding of him that lead to the Matrix. Though only the first one, mind, the two next ones were just simulacra of good films. No, never mind that: they were real, but crappy films.