Robert Thornton (031RTHOR@MUSE.ARTS.WITS.AC.ZA)
Sun, 31 Mar 1996 11:04:28 -0500

some thought on Baudrillard to add to McCreery's, Geigers, and
Davenport's excellent remarks and observations:
the passage quoted below evokes, for me,, not social science but the
biblical book of Revelations; Baudrillard, for instance says

"When our past has been exhumed, when all that had disappeared
has reappeared, the dead will outnumber the living and there will
be the same imbalance as will come about when there is more
computing matter [*substance informatique*] and
artificial intelligence on earth than natural intelligence."

while the author of Revelations writes, in what would pass for post-
modernism (but not for Marvin Harris, I'm afraid):

Then I saw another beast which rose out of the arth; it had two
horns like a lamb and it spoke like a dragon. It exercises all
the authority of the first beast in its presence, and makes the
earht and its inhabitants worship the first beast . . . (13:11-12)
Then I looked, and lo, on Mount Zion stood the Lamb, and with him
a hundern and forty-four thousand who had his name and his
Father's name written on their foreheads. And I heard a voice
from heaven like the sound of many waters and like the sound of
loud thunter . . . and they sing a new song before the throne of
the four living creatures . . No one could learn that song except
the forty-four thousand who had been redeemed from the earth. It
is these who have not defiled themselves with women, for they are
chaste. . . . Another angel, a second followed saying, Fallen,
fallen is Babylon the great, she who make all nations drink the
wine of her impure passion." (14:1-8)

Is this not more like the _source_ of Baudrillard? The host of
angels, the song that is too big to learn except by the saved

Baudrillard, again:
" Then
we shall be cast into sidereal space, the space of networks, or
into fossil space, the space of the kingdom of the dead . . ."
[ellipsis points JB's] (pp. 76-77)"

but compare with Revelations ( I hope you all have your bibles out
from under your chairs by now!); Please follow along with me in your
bibles as we read,

And another angel, a third, flollwed, saying with a loud ovice,
"If any one worships the beast and its image, and receives a mark
on his forhead or on his hand, he also shall drink the wine of
God's wrath; . . . and the smoke of their torment goes up for ever
and ever; and they have not rest day or night, these worshippers
of the Beast and its image, and whoever receives the
mark of his name. (14:9).

Does this sound like 'sideral space, . . . the space of networks .
. .,' and so on? it does to me. The Book of Revelations surpasses
even Baudrillard for pure excess of style and surpasses even stephen
king for 'the beast have got you' horror. I don't know what John was
smoking when he wrote it, but it sure was some heavy shit, man.

The point I might be making here, of that I think I'm making, is that
much of the Jeremiad style of writers like Baudrillard has been done
before. As McCreery points out, it is an old story, and that is what
makes it 'ring so clearly for us as we read it. this is a sort of
secular revivalism and the issue of salvation and and the soul has
now been transformed, and a secular environment into the world of
'information', ecology, cosmology and other material versions of the
old imagination of god and spirit. I have difficulty seeing the
difference, sometimes, since god and spirit was once understood and
felt to be as real was now think 'information' and ecology and
cosmological 'singularies' are now. There is still a feeling that
we need to be saved, or that somehow there is a salvation, that, as
the Bible says,

This is your lot,
the portion I have measured out to you, says the Lord,
because you have forgotten me,
and trusted in lies.
I myself will lift up your skirts over your face,
and your shame will be seen. (Jeremiah)

but, in the end, after Babylon, and the bearing the yokes of
oppression and suffering,

... they shall come back from the land of the enemy.
There is hope for your future,
says the Lord,
and your children shall come back to their own country. (Jere31:17)

Ultimately, I think we will find that the auguries of the post modern
heralds and diviners will look very much other auguries and
divinations, and that we are in a moment in which exactly this, and
little else perhaps, can really speak to us. Is this 'a condition'
or is it just 'the condition'? Is there no balm in Gilead?

===========Robert Thornton, Department of Social Anthropology======
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South Africa
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