Wednesday, March 30, 2011

quick thoughts on baudrillard

Perhaps there is no such thing as a quick thought on Baudrillard. Nevertheless.

Anything that bypasses meditation is a source of pleasure. In seduction there is a movement from the one to the other which does not pass via the same. (In cloning, it is the opposite: the movement is from the same to the same without passage via the other; and cloning holds great fascination for us.) In metamorphosis, the shift is from one form to another without passing via meaning. In poetry from one sign to another without passing via the reference. The collapsing of distances, of intervening spaces, always produces a kind of intoxication. What does speed itself mean to us if not the fact of going from one place to another without traversing time, from one moment to another without passing via duration and movement? Speed is marvelous: time alone is wearisome." [1]

To me, Baudrillard's philosophical program as presented in The Transparency of Evil is a critique of excess. This particular passage intrigued me as the big paper addresses--among other things--the manipulation, representation and utilization of time in eighteenth century music. Baudrillard's interpretation of time, speed and distance fits perfectly with our present predicament. Inundated by information and imagery of every stripe, immediacy and instant gratification are the twenty-first century modi operandi.

Our society's espousal to pleasure--evidenced by our overstimulated, oversexed, gluttonous, bloated corpus--represents the culmination of nineteenth century telos. After the proverbial orgy, we find ourselves entrapped in an ambivalence induced by the omnipresence of decadence. Life is a puzzle, a virtual farce littered by Busted Bubbles, Angry Birds; technological waste. Intoxicated by excess, our present condition is riddled by the progeny of intellectual, material, and virtual saturation: an aporia of intemperence.

Was that a downer? I bring it up because Baudrillard's text has had a profound impact on my reaction to my present circumstances. Furthermore, if we are to rebel against eighteenth century disciplinary practices so embedded in our psyche (examples of Zizek's unknown knowns), we must understand our present socio-cultural schema. With this cognizance and perspective we can thus identify the transformation, (dys)functionality, and machinations of the lingering and indeed subversive vestiges of eighteenth century disciplinary practices.

If I've said it once, I've said it one thousand times: knowledge is power.

[1] Baudrillard, Jean. The Transparency of Evil: Essays on Extreme Phenomena. London: Verso, 1993. 79

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