Baudrillard <debate>

John McCreery (JLM@TWICS.COM)
Sun, 31 Mar 1996 11:04:35 +0900

Like Vance Geiger I, too, thank Clyde Davenport for the
lengthy quotes from Baudrillard. We now have a shared body
of data on which we can exercise our various anthropological

My own take is this: Mr. B has chosen a classic story line and
added rhetorical flourishes reflecting his moment in French
intellectual history. He speaks to real anxieties, which are very
much part of our times, and thus, like, for example, TV
evangelist Pat Robertson, has a lot of appeal to certain publics.

The classic story line is at least as old as Confucius.

Once upon a time everybody knew his and her place.
Then came a time of confusion, in which greedy, selfish
individuals rebelled against the established norms and
contested for power among themselves.
Now everything is totally unstuck. It's forget friends, women
and children, every man for himself. Chaos reigns and good,
truth and beauty are no more, mere relics on the trash heap of

Confucius believed that hope lay in returning to the ways of
ancient kings. Pats Robertson and Buchanan idolize
Eisenhower America. Both draw on the myth of return to a
golden age. Mr. B's power is, like Stephen King's, the power
of horror. There is no return. The monsters have got you.

Vance is right to point to the stream of cultural materialism
(aka primitive Marxism) in Baudrillard's thought. This partly
explains the chill up the spine that reading Mr. B produces.
The revolution has happened. Class and gender no longer
matter. And in place of Marx's utopia, the result is something
like a transvestite bar past midnight, with tired drag queens
flirting in an atmosphere of stale beer, smoke, and vomit.

It's an interesting world to contemplate. Not the one I happen
to live in.

How do other people see this?

John McCreery
March 31, 1996