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<nettime> Baudrillard - in memoriam, for The Nouvel Observateur
Paul D. Miller on Fri, 16 Mar 2007 04:26:50 +0100 (CET)


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<nettime> Baudrillard - in memoriam, for The Nouvel Observateur


this is a memoriam for Baudrillard that Sylvere Lottringer organized for Fr=
ance's Nouvel Observateur. It'll be out next week. I just thought I'd pass =
it to the list. Greetings from Istanbul!

in peace,
Paul aka Dj Spooky
Istanbul


Baudrillard: A Remembrance of Things Unpassed

By Paul D. Miller aka Dj Spooky that Subliminal Kid

I first met Jean Baudrillard at a conference Sylvere Lottringer of Semiotex=
t(e) organized in Las Vegas several years  ago. The idea of the conference =
was about chance processes. Needless to say, with the Whiskey Casino as the=
 backdrop for the conference, and randomness as the main motif of the situa=
tion, the soundtrack of the constant churning of slot machine wheels and pu=
lleys, and the continuous movement of the attendees between speeches and ga=
mbling, it all seemed totally appropriate. Baudrillard gave his speech dres=
sed in a gold suit in simulation of Elvis, and I ran my speech through vari=
ous software processes to turn it into the sound of water.  When I look bac=
k at the moment, it seems crystal clear that we were at the edge of an aest=
hetic and philosophical ocean turn in how people put ideas together in the =
era of hyper media. Since that time, simple things like wireless networks, =
the ubiquity of the Ipod, global media events like 9/11 or the SARS virus, =
have all brought home how prescient his thought was. The world knows Baudri=
llard as the philosopher who gave us a cautionary tale about simulation, an=
d if the events of today =E2=80=93 the war in Iraq, the economics of global=
ization, Katrina=E2=80=99s destruction of New Orleans =E2=80=93 have told u=
s that in no uncertain terms, we live in a world with a more and more tenuo=
us grasp of the =E2=80=9Creality=E2=80=9D underpinning the myths of the pre=
sent day. In a world where bleak man made landscapes and the psychological =
effects of technological, social and environmental developments cannot be d=
enied, his words were a beacon of how we can reason through the myriad ways=
 that we humans have displaced the natural world. For me as a just graduati=
ng student in the early mid 90=E2=80=99s, Baudrillard seemed like a figure =
who cut through the haze of post-everything American cultural malaise. I st=
udied French literature at a time when it seemed that America was enthralle=
d by the end of the Cold War =E2=80=93 my studies were populated with peopl=
e like Derrida, Foucault, Deleuze, Guattari, Lyotard, Baudrillard, Althusse=
r, Lacan, bounded by Badiou. Kristeva, Cixous, Irigaray, Wittig=E2=80=A6 Th=
e list goes on but you get the point: these figures are part of a pantheon =
where, perhaps, one of the common themes is a simple cry for new ways to pe=
rceive how the mass media-landscape inadvertently invades and splinters the=
 private mind of the individual.=20
What Baudrillard did for me was make the world safe for doubt: doubt about =
the intentions of governments, corporations, ideologies, and yes, people. L=
ike J.G. Ballard or Bruce Sterling, his work hovered between descriptions o=
f the world in present tense and the strange and uncanny networks that hold=
 together =E2=80=9Cthe real.=E2=80=9D For him, like the 'simulacrum' follow=
ing DeBord's 'spectacle' where 'revolution' became synonymous with natural =
skin care and something everyone did against the name of 'freedom.' I don't=
 mean to say anything here, I wonder about the doubting that once swayed th=
e world,
Today, I wrote this piece traveling on a flight between Tokyo and Istanbul,=
 and as I sit here and use a wireless network in the coffee lounge of the H=
otel Buyuk Londra, I re-read him as doubting everything =E2=80=93 it=E2=80=
=99s as if Baudrillard says never model a thought about  anything unless yo=
u can say it to yourself.  The thought lingers, and links to a meta critiqu=
e: it posits modern thought as withdrawn, proffered as kind of a peripheral=
 speech. At the birth of the 21st century, at the birth of the new New Worl=
d, of suicide bombers, insane Presidents, multi-media equipped private armi=
es and fundamentalist militas, his words bear reviewing: Baudrillard =E2=80=
=93 a voice that says the seductions of reality are what we now hold dear.W=
e speak the world.  Reform, remix, re-engineer the consent of the Western w=
orld. We need this analysis more than ever. Vietnam is now long gone. Mute,=
 May 68 almost forty years ago and most of us young people have never thoug=
ht of burning monks, Chariman Mao, Stalin, or the origins of half of todays=
 problems. I think back to an almost innocent moment in the mid 1990=E2=80=
=99s when Baudrillard with a gold suit, made people remember that the chanc=
e processes of the world are what give us joy. With a simple flourish, I th=
ink that he set the tone for many young artists, writers, and musicians, to=
 remember a simple thing: that another world is possible.

Tokyo/Istanbul 3/15/07


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