A Short Conversation with Baudrillard

Jean Baudrillard


Jean Baudrillard threw me for a loop last evening. I had bought his The Conspiracy of Art several years ago, but never quite got into the meat of it...I picked it up again last night, since I remembered he addressed some of the issues I'm currently mulling over, and (attempting) to write about. After last night and this morning; after reading several chapters, I have the following (initial) thoughts.

Baudrillard is adept at illuminating (or delineating, if you will) the problems; the issues...but, like most Modernist anthropologists, refuses to (in fact, cannot) posit or even offer a solution. Cannot, not because he is philosophically or spiritually adverse to any particular solution, but that as a Modernist and, I guess, atheist or at least agnostic, he is adverse to supplying any answers at all, as a basic life-value. It reminds me of the sign, ubiquitous in areas where Quakers are found, which reads "War is not the answer", with which my mind invariably counters, "well, what is the answer?" But of course, like Baudrillard, they (Philadelphia Yearly Meeting, or PYM, the traditional and universalism-leaning branch of the Friends) cannot (and, I think I can say, will not) supply an answer. That is up to the individual -- or otherwise designated party. He is (in my American mind -- Disney-fied, as Baudrillard may say!) a prototypically French thinker, in that he senses deep irony, but will only comment, and is almost completely non-committal -- even, often, to his own conclusions. This, I suppose, is the philosopher mind in him; acting as governor to the social critic. Critically speaking, he is fairly conservative in that regard. Being a much better artist than I am anthropologist, or even social critic, I still agree with much of what Baudrillard has to say -- for example, that art has nearly ceased to exist; has become "null", through its saturated ubiquity, and its continued insistence on transcendence, despite the lack of obvious "form", that is, difference from life -- however, I have to believe that there is a way out of that quandary -- a solution, for a solvable issue. And perhaps its art's ancient answer, in part: keep making, and push through until the seed finally germinates. It's an answer I give myself often enough.

Have any of you read Baudrillard? I'd be fascinated to hear what you think.

Crystal  – (Tuesday, 15 March, 2011)  

I read Baudrillard in Lit Crit last year and just read a book chapter on style in popular culture for my Digital Rhetoric class that referenced him. I don't think it relates directly to your post, but they quoted a statement from B's "Ecstasy," which says: "Images have become our true sex object, the object of our desire. The obscenity of our culture resides in the confusion of desire and its equivalent materialized in the image." I think elsewhere the author referenced Baudrillard's assertion that everything has become image--all signifiers and no signs. I'm not sure I'd take it that far, and the author didn't either, but he's still really interesting.

gierschickwork  – (Wednesday, 23 March, 2011)  

Thanks for your thoughts, Crystal. He certainly is interesting reading...a particular thrust of his writing (which I'm picking up on) is this pushing of a theme to its limit, even if it seems illogical; to the point where it nearly collapses back on itself (i.e. the "all signifiers and no signs", or "art is null"), and seeing what the result is. Perhaps someone needs to do this, to allow room for more "temperate" voices to pull back from that edge, and delineate exactly how far and how deep an issue/problem/condition might actually be? I'm not sure yet.

adonis  – (Friday, 30 December, 2011)  

Read this:

http://insomnia.ac/commentary/on_the_genealogy_of_art_games/

The first few paragraph may alienate you, because they are about an artform you are probably not familiar with (videogames), but the rest is pure gold and answers all your questions. Enjoy.

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