But Not Abandoned
(Graduate Program in Sociology, Queen's University at Kingston, Canada)
Jean Baudrillard could not have come
into my life at a better time. Just when I had finally sorted out my personal
values, political affiliations, and my opinions regarding everything from free
trade to feminism, Baudrillard came along to tear down the walls that I had so
carefully built up to protect my delicate world view.
first encounter with Baudrillard was as an undergraduate – his collection of
essays published in English as Screened Out. I was not sure what to
think. Baudrillard’s passages thrilled and frightened my sensibilities and I
found myself becoming attached to an author who was able to illicit many
conflicting emotions. I then read his Cool Memories, Fatal Strategies,
The Transparency of Evil, and other of his works.
I appreciated Baudrillard’s role as challenger – he was not afraid to challenge
the strict sense of political correctness that has come to police our every
utterance – I was equally tentative about accepting Baudrillard at face value.
I was cautious not only of what other academics might think but mainly by what Baudrillard
might think of anyone who neglected to challenge his writing. I opted to
resolve this dilemma by challenging both Baudrillard and his challengers in a term-long
project focused on Baudrillard and “feminism”. His thought on feminism had been
both praised and rejected – some even termed the work misogynistic. For my project,
I adopted Baudrillard’s strategy of seductive analysis. Baudrillard’s Seduction
taught me to both seek out and to challenge the dualism of good and evil and to
seduce possibilities that we often mistake for truths. Ultimately, instead of
having to settle on a disconcerting version of feminism, my encounter with Baudrillard
led me to reclaim the word “feminist” – and to let every woman challenge and
redefine it so as not to be simply defined by it.
been over two years and a Masters degree since I worked with his texts but the Baudrillard
effect continues. I still think about Baudrillard each day when I watch the
news, read the paper, or when I observe heated academic debates. He led me to
challenge both the protagonist and the antagonist – to force myself outside of any
position. And then I think of Baudrillard and smile when I realize that all the
while, through life and death, he’s still seducing me.