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.

Labels: , , ,


Blogger Sara said...


March 07, 2007 1:32 pm  
Anonymous S said...

On the positive side: I found that he's good to argue against, in articles.

March 07, 2007 4:27 pm  
Blogger MGL said...

S: Kudos for doing something useful and constructive.

March 07, 2007 4:30 pm  
Blogger Susanne said...

I partly disagree, Baudrillard was - from time to time - a brilliant writer, for instance in "America" which just has to be a masterpiece when it comes to writings on visual culture. But it's true there's something static or concervative about his criticism, he's building these theories of the simulacra on ideas that Debord radicalized and took to the streets, compared to that Baudrillard just makes depressing, pointless sounds that tells us everything was better yesterday. But I like his ambivalent criticism of America, his fascination by its visuality and the way he writes about it.

March 07, 2007 11:20 pm  
Blogger Susanne said...

In other words, I need a whole lot more than a pinch of salt, Martin.

March 07, 2007 11:22 pm  
Blogger MGL said...

Susanne: but, wait. You're being all... nuanced. We don't do nuanced here in the blogosphere. You're supposed to be either against someone or for someone. Oh, and we don't do free thinking either.

I haven't read America, so I "suspend judgement" as Sokal says (the scamp).

March 08, 2007 1:04 am  
Anonymous dad said...

I've read Amerika, son. It's a hysterically funny piece of fiction about a pretentious French tourist who visits a few places in the US (mainly in California). It's very well written. I particularly admire the subtle ways in which the author manages to show the workings of prejudiced and very confused mind. A true work of art.

March 08, 2007 7:41 am  
Blogger Susanne said...

Ha ha ha:) Points for dad.

March 08, 2007 8:32 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Eg ska pisse på din grav også!

March 09, 2007 11:55 pm  
Blogger MGL said...

Takk skal du ha for din generøse kommentar, Anonymous. Det var et modig standpunkt å ta.

March 10, 2007 10:40 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ditto! Å pisse på B. er vel omtrent som å sparke åpne dører av hengslene.

Men: Nei, særlig modig er jeg ikke.

March 10, 2007 12:47 pm  

Post a Comment

<< Home