Wednesday, March 07, 2007

L'hyperréalité est morte, vive l'hyperréalité

Before I read Deleuze, or Derrida, or Foucault or any of the other world-rending New Philosophers, there was Baudrillard, a good introduction into so-called "theory" for kids like me whose life-philosophies were partly based on readings of Zen and the Art of Motorcyle Maintenance and lyrics from Funkadelic songs [insert picture of me with dreadlocks here, 1993] and who didn't know enough about Marx or Hegel or Nietschze or Kant or Heidegger to understand much of what was going on. So, you know, I owe a great deal to Baudrillard's hilarious, poignant, gadfly's-eye view of the world in Simulacra and Simulation, a book that I've come to read as an attempt to extend Debord's Society of the Spectacle, as well as an example of the giddy fatalism that threatens all those on the left who dare to look capitalism in its big, ugly face for decade after decade while "doing" philosophy: Zizek avant la "z". His account of Los Angeles is still, basically, correct, even if its broad swaths miss the visible, irrisible marks of the real that are everywhere off the yuppie yoga-trail. The LA of Starsdown owes much to him. Embarrassingly, S and S is the only book of his I know, along with excerpts from the Gulf War book. But The Mirror of Production and Critique of the Political Economy of the Sign are things I look forward to reading soon. I like this quote of his from Le Monde, too: La lâcheté intellectuelle est devenue la véritable discipline olympique de notre temp.

I've always loved the restaurant scene in Brazil--1985 to Baudrillard's books 1981--below. This is how the simulacral looked then: already nostalgiac. Skip forward to minute 3:00.

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