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Jean Baudrillard (1929 - 2007)

Lifespan: 1929 - 2007

Related: aestheticization of everyday life - Autonomedia and Semiotext(e) - hyperreality - media theory - 'pataphysics - postmodern philosophy - post-structuralism - philosophy as prose poetry - French theory - simulacrum

Unidentified cartoon of Baudrillard.

“Intellectuals must stop legitimizing the notion that there is some “ultimate truth” behind appearances. Then, maybe, the masses will turn their backs on the media and public opinion management will collapse.” –Baudrillard

"Terror is as much a part of the concept of truth as runniness is of the concept of jam. We wouldn't like jam if it didn't, by its very nature, ooze. We wouldn't like truth if it wasn't sticky, if, from time to time, it didn't ooze blood." --Jean Baudrillard

Simulacra and Simulation (1981) - Jean Baudrillard [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]

To contemporary American audiences, Baudrillard's work was best known by way of the popular sci-fi film The Matrix (1999) in which Baudrillard's Simulacra and Simulation was prominently featured. The protagonist of The Matrix, Neo, can be seen with a copy of Simulacra and Simulation. Another character, Morpheus refers to the real world outside of the Matrix as the "desert of the real", a direct reference to Baudrillard's work. [Mar 2007]

Similar theorists: Guy Debord - Walter Benjamin - Marshall McLuhan


Jean Baudrillard (1929 - 2007) was a cultural theorist and philosopher. His work is frequently associated with postmodernism and post-structuralism.

In recent years he gained notoriety for his 1991 book The Gulf War Did Not Take Place and again a decade later with The Spirit of Terrorism: Requiem for the Twin Towers (2002) in which he described the 9/11 attacks as a fusion of history, symbolism and dark fantasy, "the mother of all events". While terrorists had committed the atrocity, he wrote: "It is we who have wanted it. Terrorism is immoral, and it responds to a globalisation that is itself immoral." --[1], [2] [Mar 2007]

Intro by R. U. Sirius (1994)

'Jean Baudrillard is a social theorist who has made his living explaining the emergence of mass culture and the increasing importance of social images as commodities -- very much in the vein of the Situationists. To get a feel for the Baudrillardian "social-image-as-a-commodity," consider the term "spin doctor," listen to Michael Jackson's lawyers, or examine the difference between a television commercial and a PBS "pledge break." Baudrillard talks about the regression of simulacra, the media hall-of- mirrors in which any reference to the actual disappears. Mick Jagger talked about the same thing 20 years ago in the film Performance, only he was in a bubble bath with the still-attractive Anita Pallenberg and an underage androgynous French Girl. Baudrillard isn't that much fun, though he's the most popular Trendy Frenchman with the college crowd.' -- A User's Guide to Trendy French Intellectuals by R.U. Sirius, 1994, Wired magazine

Simulacra and Simulation (1981) - Jean Baudrillard

Simulacra and Simulation (Simulacres et Simulation in French) is a philosophical treatise by Jean Baudrillard.

Simulacra and Simulation is most known for its discussion of images, signs, and how they relate to the present day. Baudrillard claims that our society has replaced all reality and meaning with symbols and signs, and that in fact all that we know as real is actually a simulation of reality. The simulacra that Baudrillard refers to are signs of culture and media that create the reality that we perceive.

A specific analogy that Baudrillard uses is a fable derived from the work of Jorge Luis Borges. In it, a great Empire created a map that was so detailed it was as large as the Empire itself. The actual map grew and decayed as the Empire itself conquered or lost territory. When the Empire crumbled, all that was left was the map. In Baudrillard's rendition, it is the map that we are living in, the simulation of reality, and it is reality that is crumbling away from disuse.

The Matrix (1999), a popular sci-fi film, makes many connections to Simulacra and Simulation. In fact, the principal character of The Matrix, Neo, can be seen with a copy of Simulacra and Simulation, although the book in The Matrix was designed with the chapter "On Nihilism" to be in the middle, and not at the end where it is located in the real book. Morpheus also refers to the real world outside of the Matrix as the "desert of the real", a direct reference to Baudrillard's work. In the original script, Morpheus referenced Baudrillard's book specifically. In an interview, Baudrillard claimed that "The Matrix" has nothing to do with his work. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Simulacra_and_Simulation [Jan 2006]

Marshall McLuhan

Jean Baudrillard is frequently linked to Marshall McLuhan --Scott Bukatman

Séduction/Seduction (1979) - Jean Baudrillard

Séduction/Seduction (1979) - Jean Baudrillard [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]

From Publishers Weekly
Seduction, in French thinker Baudrillard's apocalyptic discourse, is a power of attraction and fascination capable of subverting mechanical, orgasm-centered sexuality and reality in general. Two chief obstacles to unleashing the potentially liberating forces of seduction are the women's movement and psychoanalysis, charges the author of America and Forget Foucault. While recognizing that seduction has a negative side--turning the seduced person away from his/her true thoughts and impulses--Baudrillard is intrigued by the seductive processes at work in the vertigo induced by games, in magic and the lottery, in the transvestite's "total gestural, sensual and ritual" behavior. He decodes pornography as "an orgy of realism," a hyperreality of signs. In his analysis, seduction has itself been corrupted in a world of manufactured desires and ready-made satisfactions. With seductive irony, Baudrillard storms the fragile phallic fortress of patriarchy in this heady, sometimes obscure meditation.

From Library Journal
If a state of exasperation, a thwarting of expectation, and a teasing of the imagination are sufficient response to a book that bafflingly evades all of the flexible nomenclature of literary classification, then Seduction has been successful. It is not science, if science is clear thinking from carefully ascertained facts. It is not art, for Baudrillard writes a prose--in translation at least (the book was first published in France in 1979)--that has neither intelligibility nor music. The author of America had an opportunity to inform and enlighten us on the various roles the art and act of seduction play in our lives, but his arguments are vitiated by the lack of a coherent point of view and by diffuseness. To read the book takes much more effort than the average reader is likely to give

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