Fragments: Cool Memories Iii, 1991-95, by Jean Baudrillard.

I Find Karma (
Sun, 22 Feb 98 23:51:30 PST

Kudos to Megan for pointing out a bit abour deconstructive arch-hero Jean

He has a new book, "Fragments: Cool Memories Iii, 1991-95", reviewed by
Salon, who calls him "your standard ultra-hip, post-everythingist French

Which we have added to FoRK-books:

In case anyone who wants to buy it from Amazon:

And please remember, if you're gonna buy from Amazon, buy safely: always
use /forkrecommendedrA/ at the end so the FoRK general fund gets a
boost. The only exception to this is if you want to buy books from
Megan, which we also condone:

For now, read this Salon review of the Baudrillard book, below.

BY SCOTT McLEMEE | From the mid-'60s through the mid-'80s, Jean
Baudrillard was your standard ultra-hip, post-everythingist French
intellectual, publishing a series of philosophical works on Desire,
Revolution, Death and the Sign. He treated the ideas of Marx, Freud and
Nietzsche with much the same attitude that J.G. Ballard's characters
brought to automobiles. They were sexiest when accelerated to high
speeds and brought into collision. Out of the resulting conceptual
wreckage, Baudrillard fashioned his theory of "the order of the
simulacrum." To simplify a bit: Once, it made sense to think of signs as
pointing to reality. But with the total saturation of society by the
media, cybernetics and mass production, the world has turned upside
down. Life is an effect -- a byproduct -- of television images, computer
programs and market surveys. Society and information form an
increasingly escalating feedback loop: Each "simulates" the other, until
both finally "implode." All reality becomes virtual.

About a dozen years ago, Baudrillard's work started appearing in English
translation with some regularity. And the timing could not have been
better. The dissemination of his jargon during the late 1980s
corresponded with the rise of the VCR, the home PC, the video game and
the modem. In 1986, his visit to the United States (the homeland of the
simulacrum) yielded a book-length essay, "America" -- which was less
theoretical than his earlier work, and looked attractive on a coffee
table, besides. A few years earlier, Baudrillard had realized that he
was pretty much out of new ideas: "And it is most unlikely that a second
burst of inspiration will alter this irreversible fact." But did that
slow him down?

Evidently not. "Fragments" is his third collection of notebook jottings
in the past 10 years (not counting several volumes of essays, including
"The Gulf War Did Not Take Place"). To judge from the evidence of his
journal, becoming an international intellectual superstar has not
exactly been bad for his sex life. Plus, he wracks up a lot of
frequent-flier miles. Besides writing about nameless women and his
travels, Baudrillard knocks off cryptic, rather world-weary remarks
about, for example, "Thelma and Louise" (he seems to have enjoyed it)
and human stupidity (it annoys him).

Before turning to philosophy, Baudrillard wrote poetry; and the literary
urge still visits him. "The charm of sleepless nights is the idea that
tomorrow will not come," he muses. And: "In the empty space of desire,
the seats are expensive/Scandals serve as democracy's Tampax, when it
has its period and the hemorrhage has to be staunched." (And so on.)

A cover blurb from Ballard calls Baudrillard "the most important French
thinker of the past twenty years" -- which sounds impressive, until you
think of the competition. And whatever its value as social theory,
Baudrillard's writing from decades past was prophetic in the cynicism of
its vision of information technology. But that was then. His notebooks,
at least, are indistinguishable from the noodlings of a depressed
graduate student (albeit one getting laid regularly). "So far as
intellectual 'work' is concerned," he writes now, "I have no idea about
that any longer. What I have left is a total receptiveness in the void,
where nothing is to be expected except from universal gravity." Whoa,
dude. Time to get that coffee refill. SALON | Dec. 1, 1997

Scott McLemee, a contributing editor at Lingua Franca, writes regularly
for Salon.


Reality is the illusion caused by lack of sex and hard liquor.