Jean Baudrillard is Dead: Reflections1
(The Constructive Curmudgeon
Jean Baudrillard, the
often incomprehensible, but sometimes oracular, French sociologist is dead at
age 77. I first encountered his work in 1994 when I happened upon The
Transparency of Evil, which, at times, was thrilling in its insights into
the vicissitudes and perplexities of media culture. This thoughts on hyper-realities
are arresting and useful for media analysis. These are roughly images with no
concrete references. Think of video game characters. I quoted him a few times
in Truth Decay, to good effect, I hope.
As an analytic philosopher, I typically have little patience for
such stultifying stunts, but with Baudrillard, the pearls amidst swine were
sometimes worth the hunt. I often quote his line from America, "In America, the laugh track is always running" Quite so. We laugh when we
should blush or weep or sit silently.
Baudrillard was called (by some) the French McLuhan. Perhaps at
times that would fit, but McLuhan, even at his most obscure, was more clear than
Baudrillard at his most clear. Nevertheless, reading McLuhan's Media: The
Extensions of Man and Baudrillard's The Transparency of Evil is
recommended for those who desire insight into the culture of electronic media.
© Douglas Groothius and The Constructive