Forgetting Baudrillard / The Death of
Dreams and the Dream of Death...
book must break up so as to resemble the ever increasing number of extreme
situations. It must break up to resemble the flashes of holograms. It must roll
around itself like the snake on the mountains of the heavens. It must fade away
as it is being read. It must laugh in its sleep. It must turn in its grave.1
know how to slip away at the appropriate moment. Their death is a stroke of
cleverness: it makes the world more enigmatic, more difficult to understand
than it was when they were alive, which is the true task of thought.2
I cried the day Jean
Baudrillard died. How could I forget that day? It was the first (and so far
only) intellectual death I have mourned. Yet. . . on that day I began to forget
To dream of one day waking. . .
What is forgetting? It is
not complete negation. . . it is not total subtraction. Forgetting is not a
nothing, it is always a something. Forgetting is a way of thinking, but it is
also a way of being.
Forgetting is a blurring
of images. It is a slurring of words. Forgetting is a fogging – a fogging of
the view – a fogging of the mind – a fogging. When I forget something, I never
forget that thing totally. . . it is never completely gone from me. The thing
simply begins to fade, to blur around the edges and to bleed into other things
inside of me. Thoughts and memories blur and bleed, soaking each other and
saturating the mind with an odd mixture of half-truth, wish, and desire. More
than all of those, the mind becomes filled with the topic of the later
Baudrillard (the Baudrillard with Cool Memories), that is, a state of utter
confusion and apathy (or is it resignation to ignorance?)...
“Being forgetful is a way of being.”
It is the way we are
according to Baudrillard. We are fragmented in our lust for knowledge (of
everything in toto), this is our original sense of being (existing), this
fragmenting is eerily natural but increases at an alarming rate with the birth
of the global. With the first traces of the forgetting of the real, with the
quiet crime of coating the world in the hyperreal, we fragment more and more,
until eventually the “natural state” of the human being is a loose amalgam of
products, brands, turns of phrase, and utter uselessness. The user is now broken
beyond recognition, to a point where the homo fragmentis would not understand
the very being of the homo-sapiens. This is the creature of the Cool
Memories, and explains the reason why many disregard the works. Just as few
recognize the “art” of the caged elephant, few recognize the description of a
new species, the species that exists in a blur, a being that sounds like a
telephone and knows only flashes – homo fragmentis. . . discovered by Jean
Forgetting is never
complete; it is always fragmentary. Forgetting is a fragmenting of the subject,
but also of the world around the subject (as if either is actually distinct).
The thing I forget breaks apart into pieces, some of which fall away, while
others simply linger inside of me, floating to the surface as fragments are
wont to do.3
Forgetting is a breaking
of the world, the mind, and the System. There exists a purity in forgetting, a
naïve innocence in a way. . . but mostly there exists only pity for the being
who lives the life of forgetting (before our attention is quickly turned to the
latest in canine fashions). When thoughts fire back and forth, when a being is
out of sorts and never themselves (whatever we may take that to mean) they are
forgetting. The splitting of mind is equal to the splitting of thoughts is
equal to the splitting of hairs is equal to our crisis du jour as a species.
Being forgetful is being fragmentary.
It is being broken. Always.
Baudrillard taught us all
to forget. Or rather, Baudrillard taught us that we are always already
forgetting. This is the state of our existence, we have gone from the
Enlightenment “knowers” of the cosmos to the Contemporary “forgetters” of. . .
Forgetting breaks our
memories, it breaks them down and breaks them apart. I am always filled with
fragments – bits and pieces of lives, some mine, most not. I am always already
filled with these fragments. My attention focuses long enough to begin to count
them and to wonder where they all could have come from but I am quickly distracted.
I don't think I will ever truly know where my fragments came from, how many are
“really” mine to begin with, or anything else we may wonder now in a brief
moment of reflection. This is our interlude before the next coup by a new
fragment, a new glimmer of recognition that blinds us just enough to distract
us before it is moved, covered over by a new piece of something.
(“I used to have that
technology but it was ripped right our of me”.) An overheard half of a
conversation. (“From the book of dying words.”) A memory of a misread book
title. (“. . . .and I support this message.”) A sample of someone (I can't
To be forgotten is to be
made into fragments, to be broken down and never to be put “back” together.
This is assuming that cohesion and continuity are necessary or original. Our
lives are fragmentary, they are incongruous and awkward. There is no
continuity. . . only fragments. We drift in and out of consciousness in this
hyper-real world, never completely aware, but never in total darkness either.
Like being jolted in and out of a coma, we fade in to a shock and quickly fade
Heraclitus is the first
thinker to be made fragmentary, to never be cohesive or coherent. He is always
to be forgotten and never to truly be remembered. The more we think we know
(grasp) him, the more Heraclitus is actually forgotten and covered over and
blurred and fragmented (even further).
With every (heart)beat a
second self. A simple square and a simple question. How long have you been
asleep? With the dream of death... and the death of dreams... the dread of
waking becomes a nightmare. ". . . the last thing I remember was a flash
of light and the feeling of metal on skin." When did the dreams stop? When
did they die? How does one start dreaming again?
. . . .painkillers take you back. As
if by force. The dream comes at you from all sides like when heavy rain soaks
you to the bone. You don't know what to expect, because you never expect
anything. Expect everything. Expect only the unknown. Whatever dreams may
bring. . .
The greatest thing we
could ever do for Jean Baudrillard would be to forget him. . . to never know
him. This forgetting is not a means of depreciating the value of Baudrillard to
philosophy and the history of ideas, I am fully supportive of the man's work,
his investigations into how we experience our contemporary setting and the
environment that has bred such creatures and we. To say that Baudrillard is not
important is absurd in my mind. This forgetting is an honouring. To forget
Baudrillard would be to elevate the symptom he describes to the highest degree.
It is only when a disease is discovered, analyzed, and isolated that it can be
cured. Part of this process is the forgetting of the discoverer, for them to
fade into the background and become like lighting or scenery rather than
actors. There are no more actors – the only actor is the prop. We must forget
Baudrillard is how work is to become untainted by the idea that it belongs to
him in any way. He is simply the one to discover such events (and non-events)
and to begin the explanation of this new world, filled with new species and new
behaviours. When we forget the man, Jean Baudrillard, we honour him to the
highest degree by leaving nothing but the fragments he left behind. To forget him
would be to allow him to be irrational, to be incoherent, and to allow his
fragments to float to the surface in a continual forgetting. Either we must
forget the man, or forget the works. With the former, the author becomes no one
and everyone, the fragments left behind enigmas and challenges to those
(un)fortunate enough to discover them and attempt to form them into a cohesive
whole. In this case, Baudrillard remains alive and quietly laughing at the
inevitable failure of their efforts. With the latter, Baudrillard also lives,
with the man standing as a monument to the work that no longer exists, with
only the pedestal engraved with the following words: “My name is Jean
Baudrillard, king of kings: Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!”